In Bruges (2008)

A movie in which a midget/dwarf repeatedly introduces himself, “I’m an American, but don’t hold that against me” can’t be bad, in fact this movie, with its Irish flavored flair for the unlikely is by far the most charming violent film this reviewer can recollect seeing.

That no one can predict exactly what’s going to happen next is a welcome relief to the chase scene shoot-em-ups we’re treated to in action films. That the storyline must be seen to be believed makes it even better. One has to pay attention, however, one moment it’s a sight-seeing tour in a quaint medieval town in Belgium, the next it’s a turn and twisting plot for hit men and their contractor to fetch a strange professional code of conduct its due. In the end, the less forgiving might come away and with a sigh, mutter, well, it’s just the Irish, only to wonder about some of the storyline elements later.

But even the worst of us can care about others, can rest on principle no matter how self-sacrificing and find love in the most obscure of places…like Bruges. Perhaps it’s the humidity.

Under the able direction and exceptional screen writing of Martin McDonagh, casting is much of the film’s success. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play Ray and Ken, respectively, two professional hit men on the lamb from a score that went bad. Oddly, their contractor selects Bruges for their “sabbatical”. The lovely Thekla Reuten plays their pregnant hostel landlady, while Clemence Poesy becomes Ray’s newfound love, Chloe. Both ladies serve their roles well and both with vivacity.

The talented Ralph Fiennes is Harry Waters, the men’s contractor who ends in coming to Bruges, where he’s sent them, to clean up all the confusion, “on principle”.

Strong language, (Irish, you know,) and some really far out illusions made (again, Irish.) Heavy drinking, drug use and shortness of temper (guess who?) all working to make this a memorable film. Highly recommended, but not for those under 12.

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