Colin Farrell plays an Irish hitman hiding out in Belgium in his new movie, In Bruges. Farrell, an Irishman, gives his best performance to date mostly because he drops the cocky swagger he uses while playing Americans.
Farrell’s character and the character played by Brendan Gleeson had to kill a couple of people in order to get a trip to Bruges (rhymes with huge). Sombeodyisfromhere.com didn’t have to go quite that far.
Somebodyisfromhere.com was in Bruges for about an hour and a half. An accident on an English highway coming from London shortened his day trip significantly. He took a ferry from Dover (England) and landed in Calais (France), taking a bus the rest of the way.
In Bruges is a drama much in the same way Somebodyisfromhere.com is pure journalism. It has some points to make, but it would rather make you laugh and let you look at cool stuff.
Meanwhile, Bruges is a city in much the same way as – well Somebodyisfromhere.com doesn’t know where he’s going with this - there is nothing, for better or worse, quite like Bruges. Like many European towns, the city is featured around a square which is prominent in the movie. The Belfry in the center, displaying the best views of the city, is where much of the action takes place. The square is about all Bruges has in common with other cities.
In the film, the city is referred to, both seriously and in jest, as something out of a fairy tale. There are a number of reasons for this. Bruges is virtually untouched by the chains of the rest of the western world. Just as significantly, it’s also known as ”Venice of the North” with canals peppered throughout the city.
Curiously, the city has been able to keep its charm because it was forgotten. Once a useful port, it was neglected as cities such as Antwerp grew more important. When tourism and other industries returned, the old buildings hadn’t gone anywhere.
The buildings may be old, but certain parts have modernized. Distinctly European, the city’s taxis are Mercedes. This combination of old and classy gives the young tourist the feeling that you’re vacationing, yet not necessarily in your comfort zone. Vacationing in Bruges is like partying at your parent’s house while they’re away for the weekend, have fun, just don’t break anything.
Likewise, In Bruges isn’t like other English gangster movies. Just because the leads have accents and guns doesn’t make it Snatch. In fact, it’s probably closer in tone to the American Grosse Pointe Blank in that the action is (fairly) serious but with underlining humor. Still, many English movies have an articulate and principled nemesis (Gangster No. 1, Sexy Beast, and what the hell, Snatch) and In Bruges is no different. In this movie, that character is played by Ralph Fiennes in a role that was as much fun for the viewer to watch as it clearly was for him in playing.
The city is primarily known for lace and chocolate. In In Bruges, back to the movie now, it’s stated that the latter is necessary to lure the children in town whereby explaining why the abuse of children is so prevalent. Needless to say, unlike Bruges’ offering of sweets, the movie’s humor (and sporadic violence) isn’t for everyone.
You probably couldn’t spend too many days in Bruges. And you probably couldn’t see too many movies like In Bruges. Each is refreshing for precisely the same reason though, with so many recycled ideas, it’s nice to see a collection of people who have the guts to bring something different to the table.