August 28, 2008, on DVD
My affection for Colin Farrell is no secret, and I have absolutely no shame in it. Like Russell Crowe and Angelina Jolie, Farrell is exactly who he is without apology and without pretense. I admire that in people. I would rather see the warts and rough edges of a person than have him present a façade that gives me no indication of the soul within. I can appreciate anyone who is wholly himself at all times, whether I find him likable or not. And so it is with Colin Farrell. I appreciate him and his talent, without regard for his faults. It is only such an affection that would bring me to a film like In Bruges.
The story centers around two hitmen who have been sent to Bruges, Belgium, in order to lay low after a botched assignment. The elder of the two, Ken, who essentially plays the mentor in the relationship, immediately falls in love with the sleepy little town and its rich, medieval history. The younger, Ray, played by Farrell, sees absolutely no worth in Bruges and begins going stir crazy from the moment they arrive. Therein lies the comedy, of course. The previews of In Bruges would lead you to believe the entire film is comedic, somewhat in the vein of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, but the film contains a much more intimate and heartbreaking story of guilt, reckoning, redemption and loss that takes the viewer beyond expectations. There is humor, dark but hilarious, and there is great beauty in the setting, but In Bruges is not a comedy. And though it is filled with rampant profanity and moments of excessive violence, I found the film to be powerful and captivating. So much of the credit for this lies in the writing itself, but an equal share should be given to the actors who embody their roles with no ego and with the courage to portray characters quite beyond themselves. Farrell, in fact, does this in the most obvious way, as his Ray is so very childlike in his every movement, every thought, every response. Watching him play such an inward role, down to his facial expressions and body language, gives me an even greater respect for the vast talent of this man. He continues to surprise me, and he always seems to show me another level of his craft in every project he takes on.
Though I will always equate In Bruges with Colin Farrell, the film was just as enjoyable for me on the basis of the performances and the extremely well-written story. And seeing the town of Bruges used as a complete character in the film has given me the desire to visit in person. That, to me, is a sign of a successful film.