"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