Once in a rare chance you find a relatively obscure movie that is so unexpectedly wonderful that you feel like you have stolen something. We have watched films about unrepentant child-murderers, so what about those who are repentant, and are thrust into a horrible situation by only doing an honest day’s work? We can relate through Martin McDonagh’s masterpiece, and I say that in all seriousness.This film was a spellbinding black comedy,a slapstick work of high violence with imbedded rich metaphor and religious symbolism galore. It was also like an alternate universe of crushing cynicism and blistering put downs and one-liners, these guys start with Cockneyed coarseness and hilarious brutality.
Ray and Ken are hired killers and they are sent to Bruges to await further instructions from their boss. Right away you can tell that something is not quite right with Ray as he hates everything about Bruges as much as Ken loves the charm and history of the ancient medieval city. Soon the somber truth is revealed, Ray is devastated that he had accidentally killed a little boy during a routine whack job of a Priest, because the Priest opposed a Real-Estate development. If that is not bad enough, while they are cooling their heels in Bruges, Ken receives an order from his boss to assassinate Ray for his unpardonable sin. That’s about all the plot I’m going to reveal, the rest will just be reflection on this brilliant movie.
The rest of the movie is just a Magical Mystery Tour of outrageous characters, scintillating and blistering put-downs and one-liners, and cinematic joy. This movie is damn near perfect in the way the characters, dialogue, scenes and characters are looped back to connect again with wonderful results. At any moment I expected to see Jules and Vincent strolling down the street talking about La Royale with Cheese, this movie is just that good. Everyone ends up back in Bruges somehow…everyone. The plot is straightforward and practically irrelevant, this film is all about the outrageous characters and the duets of Cockneyed dialogue that are presented for your entertainment. The performances by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell were Oscar material, and Fiennes was simply terrifying.
Other than Ray and Ken, here are the other whacky characters:
The Prostitutes– Two prostitutes and just two lines from one prostitute. When Ray rhetorically states that Amsterdam is just a bunch of prostitutes, she replies, “Yes, that’s why I came to Bruges. Been trying to get a better price for my pussy here.”
The Midget Jimmy– When Ray karate-chopped the pensive, coked-up, Jimmy the Midget I thought I would have an aneurysm. Oh, the Midget was also coming down from a bout with horse tranquilizer. The scene with all the coke, the hookers, and the Midget, where the Midget discussed a racial war was inspired, it was wonderful. Jimmy also discusses how much shit he’s had to take off of Black Midgets. “Two monkey hookers and a racist dwarf, I’m going home”. I’m not one to spoil anything, but yes, the Midget dies horribly.
The Canadian Couple-One of the most gut-bursting scenes in the movie is in the restaurant where these guys starts bitching at Ray for Chloe’s cigarette smoke. Of course, Ray kicks the shit out of both of them, yes, he coldcocks the woman, too. Upon leaving he frantically declares when he notices everyone staring at the carnage, “That’s for John Lennon, you Yankee Fucking Cunt!”. Like everyone else, you haven’t seen the last of them either.
American Elephants– Morbidly obese Americans and a tiny spiral staircase. The scene with the huge waddler trying to chase Ray around was hilarious enough, but I can’t say enough about how the Director Martin McDonagh uses these obscure characters not only for a immediate laugh, but to beautifully tie together subsequent scenes.
The Ticket Seller– The very embodiment of a bureaucrat and The Peter Principle, this unlovable twit is master of his universe until he tries to mix it up with Harry. Absolute hilarity is the result as Harry, always in no mood for obstacles, beats the guy senseless. Apparently the elephant had tried the stairs and failed. Just rent and watch the movie to understand the genius at work here.
The Cuckold Boyfriend Eirik– This skinhead punk gets no respect from anyone, and that is all he deserves. He’s just a two-bit hustler who manages to get humiliated and blinded by Ray, who takes away his own gun that contains only blanks. He is also ridiculed without mercy by Harry who delivers point blank some of the cruelest put downs ever (See Yuri, The Gun Merchant). This is the kind of klutz who would bring a knife to a gun fight. In fact, he did just that.
The Terrifying Harry– Harry is like a Ben Logan in Sexy Beast… only with a morbidly hilarious sense of humor. Harry is the mob boss and he doesn’t like the way things went in London or are going in Bruges, so he pays a visit to straighten things out. He has his code to enforce after all. No one spits out the lines like Ralph Fiennes and his acerbic tongue cuts right to the bone. In his very first scene he is boiling mad and destroys a telephone after the fateful call from Harry. The next scene with Yuri is one of the most hilarious scenes in cinematic history and Eirik’s abuse from everyone is never-ending. Harry is a cunt, a seething lopsided flywheel of fury and he only gets worse and worse.
Chloe– A cute dope-peddler who specializes in horse tranquilizer for midgets. She also teams with Eirik for an occasional tourist shakedown. Ray is immediately smitten by this lass with such fine qualities. She is in town for the making of some fantasy movie that includes the midget. She also may work for a Veterinarian, I don’t know.
Yuri- The Gun Merchant. It’s all about the nooks ‘n crannies vs. the alcoves. This guy bore an uncanny resemblance to Jean Reno, but was played by Eric Godon, a Belgian actor. The mix and resultant confusion with the Irish, Cockneyed and European accents was another source of joy in this great movie. The “dim dim” bullets were funny enough, but when Harry totally humiliated the hapless Eirik at Yuri’s, it was music to the ears.
“I mean basically if you’re robbing a man and you’re only carrying blanks and you allow your gun to be taken off you and you allow yourself to be shot in the eye with a blank which I assume that the person has to get quite close to you then, yeah really it’s all your fault for being such a POOF, so why don’t you stop whining and cheer the fuck up.”
Marie-The pregnant owner of the B & B has to stick to her principles too. The dialogue between Ray, Harry and Marie, discussing the “rules” of the impending shootout was like a magical Tarantino inspired scene. This was the Holy Grail of black, twisted logic and humor.
Quotes and One-Liners (too many to possibly list):
- “I do want the guy dead, I want him fucking crucified, but it don’t change the fact that he stitched you up like a blind little gay boy, does it?” -Harry (To the hapless Eirik)
- “One gay beer for my gay friend and one normal beer for me ‘cause I’m normal” -Ray
- “You ‘eet the Canadian” -Policeman “That’s the Motherfucker!” -Canadian Guy
- “My date involved two instances of extreme violence, one instance of her hand on my cock and my finger up her thing which lasted all too briefly -isn’t that always the way?- one instance of me stealing five grams of very high-quality cocaine and one instance of me blinding a poofy little skinhead: so all in all … my evening pretty much balanced out, fine.”- Ray
- “I saw your midget today, the little prick didn’t even say hello.” -Ray
- “I was on a very strong horse tranquilizer today. I wasn’t waving hello to anyone … Except maybe a horse.” -Jimmy the Midget
- [To Ken] “Did I ask you to be his psychiatrist? No, I asked you to kill him.” -Harry
- “This is exactly the point! People go around calling you a midget when you want to be called a dwarf. Of course you’re going to blow your head off!” -Ray
- “Somehow I believe, Ken, that the balance shall tip in the favor of culture, like a big fat fucking retarded fucking black girl on a see-saw opposite… a dwarf.” -Ray
- “A Uzi? I’m not from South Central Los fucking Angeles. I didn’t come here to shoot twenty black ten year olds in a drive-by. I want a normal gun for a normal person.” -Harry
Special Ruthless Ratings:
- Film- 10/10 One of the best movies ever made. Martin McDonagh is a genius.
- DVD/Extras- 7/10 Mostly about the city of Bruges, disappointed that there was no commentary from the Director
- Acting/Dialogue- 10+/10- Some of the best I’ve ever seen.
- Wow Factor – 20+/10. We have a movie with great acting and dialogue that is also a gangster film and a black comedy. Include horse tranquilizer, cocaine and other drugs, plus prostitutes and a racist midget who dies and you have the makings of a masterpiece.