"I do know a Belgium joke. What's Belgium famous for? Chocolates and child abuse, and they only invented the chocolates to get to the kids."Belgium takes a hammering in Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's first film In Bruges, but it might also steer the tourists towards the canals, churches and squares of medieval picturebook town Bruges, a so-called Venice of the north. The set-up sounds a little like the eloquent-hitman scenarios that came thick and fast in the 90s, in the wake of Tarantino -- Irish shooters Ken (older, wiser and played by Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (younger, simpler and played by Colin Farrell) are sent to Bruges in winter to hide out after a couple of killings in London. Incongruity, right? There's a touch of Beckett in McDonagh’s writing of this odd couple’s minutely-examined boredom, killing two slow weeks in a tourist town. Their boss, Harry (an enjoyably nasty Ralph Fiennes, initially just a voice on the phone), picked Bruges because of his "fairytale" memories of a magical childhood holiday. The canals, the swans, and so on. So they're aren't just eloquent hitmen, they're sentimental hitmen. And also, we learn, moral.
November 7, 2008
Things to do in Belgium when you’re not quite dead