Thoughts on In Bruges

The movie In Bruges is… interesting, to stay the least. At times funny and horrifying and sometimes both at once, this tale of two hitmen hiding in the Belgian town of Bruges after a botched job is surprisingly unconventional. By that, I mean that the movie sets you up with all the usual sort of expectations for a gangster movie, to the point where you think you can predict what will happen next, and then it delivers something else entirely that still makes perfect sense.

It has a strong cast, including Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, and Brendan Gleeson, and everyone seems to fit naturally in their roles, no matter how outrageous the characters get.  That is a rather profound accomplishment in a movie that gets downright surreal and bizarre at times.

The pacing of In Bruges, in retrospect, is perhaps the true triumph of this film, starting out as what appears to be a leisurely gangster buddy movie, veering sharply to a dark twist, jumping between emotional highs and lows of the characters and story highs and lows for the audience, and ending with an intense, fast-paced, and still-humourous action sequence that delivers an irritatingly ambiguous ending.

Allow me a moment for a bit of a rant here.  I dislike ambiguous endings.  I feel they exist because the writer was too chicken to pick a definitive ending, and thus left it open-ended to avoid making the choice.  I don’t really believe the justifications or excuses you sometimes hear — “Well, the story I was telling was really over by that point,” or, “I wanted to leave it up to the viewer to decide,” — it’s just an easy way out to avoid making the decision that’s going to piss off some of your audience no matter what.  In the case of In Bruges, it’s merely mildly irritating, as I just want to know what happened; in the case of a movie like Pan’s Labyrinth, the ambiguity shown in the ending can potentially undermine the impact of the whole movie that came before.

Anyway, coming back to the main feature: In Bruges was a good movie.  It has something of the feel of a Guy Ritchie-esque heist movie, and I’m not sure about its re-watch value, but it was one of the more unique and entertaining movies I’ve seen in a while, and well worth checking out (unless you’re averse to blood, violence, and swearing).