In Bruges

In Bruges. Blueprint Pictures 2008

Before watching the movie:

I vaguely remember this movie being around when it came out. I remember being vaguely interested in seeing it, but also having the sense that I probably wouldn’t get to it until it was bloggable. Somehow, I’ve been blogging long enough that even though this came out a year before I started blogging and I avoid reviewing movies less than ten years old, this is now bloggable. That is just completely wrong.

This is a dark comedy about hiding out in an unfamiliar but lovely town after a crime goes sideways. It’s kind of also a travel movie, and I think being a travel comedy in central-ish Europe is what made me associate it with If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. Which is an entirely different kind of movie. Also, for the uneducated Americans, and I include myself in that statement, the poster I found helpfully notes that Bruges is in Belgium.

After watching the movie:

Ray and his mentor Ken arrive in Bruges, on orders from their boss Harry after Ray’s first hired killing went awry, told to lay low and sightsee until he calls them. Ken is enthralled with the medieval charm of Bruges, but Ray feels they’ve been stuck in a hellhole and wants to get out and back to normal as soon as possible. Then, while seeing the city, Ray notices a film crew, is entirely captivated when he realizes the lead actor is a little person, and chats up a woman around the set into meeting him for dinner tomorrow night. While Ray is out on the date, Harry calls Ken with instructions Ray is not to know: the trip to Bruges is meant as a final gift to Ray because Ray accidentally killed a child while assassinating his mark, and now Ken must kill Ray for it. So of course Ken goes and immediately stops Ray from committing suicide.

The mid-00s are probably a peak in bigotry, as more topics ceased being rude to acknowledge the existence of but had not yet become rude to discuss insensitively, and as an R-rated film, this doesn’t hold back on much. Jimmy, the little person, finds his job humiliating, prefers to be called “dwarf”, but Ray won’t stop calling him “midget” and going on about how high the suicide rates for little people are to his face.

Jimmy turns out to be a huge racist, but of course he’s racist because he’s American, and all of the Americans in this movie are rude as well as racist and/or obese (though those are relatively fair stereotypes). Aside from where it hasn’t aged well, it’s pretty funny for a movie about hitmen, thieves, and rude tourists. The dialogue is understated yet often highly amusing.

The core of the movie is the relationship between Ray and Ken. They’re quite fond of each other, despite constantly irking each other. Ray and Chloe are also endearing in their own messed up way, as a couple of wicked people who have a shot at being happy with someone who can see past that.

The movie spends a lot of time ruminating about morality, hell, and purgatory, but then eventually pivots into the absurdity of trying to be an honorable killer. Mostly though, it seems like people are naturally terrible but trying to be better. Even in Bruges.

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