Dark comedy is not easy to do, since comedy itself is hard enough. With dark comedy, you have to have the right amount of bleakness or terribleness and then a mix of comedy for it to work. The Coen Brothers have perfected this art in such films as Fargo. Martin Macdonagh’s new dark comedy/thriller/action/shoot ‘em up film is called In Bruges. Think of it as Fargo with thicker accents, less niceness, and more cursing. Collin Farrell plays a gun for hire named Ray. He has a mentor named Ken (Brendan Gleeson). And they have a guy after them named Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes). Oh and there’s a “dwarf” named Jimmy (Jordan Prentice, from American Pie Presents the Naked Mile) Why, yes, this all ties together, but I shan’t give the plot away.
The beginning of the film is so wrought with darkness and sadness, you’re ultimately shocked that towards the second half it actually becomes…quite hilarious. Brendan Gleeson, who has done a lot of British television and stage work, makes an old fart like Ken seem cool. The cinematography, done by Eigil Bryld, can be annoyingly shaky sometimes, but in certain shots, very beautiful. Never has a climb up the stairs been so moving, but I will get to that scene a little later in this review.
What makes this film so good? It’s rather flawless humor and drama, how one never overshadowed the other and how each element was actually used appropriately. Swift changes between the elements actually can enhance a film’s emotional plotline, or bring it down. But it is indeed possible to go from thinking of committing suicide to kicking a dwarf in the crotch.
The score by Carter Burwell was another thing that made the film. It was a very moving score when need be and then it could go to a pulse pounding chase scene and make the score turn that way too. One of the best uses of scores I’ve ever seen on screen is when en is climbing up the stairs with a shot in his neck and knee and it plays this old Celtic song that is so moving a beautiful. He then proceeds to jump off of the building and you can almost feel the rush of the wind on your face. A superb, if very morbid scene.
The film as a whole has a very good sense of what it is and doesn’t take advantage of that knowledge. It manages to be a well written, dramatic, and funny film. Ralph Fiennes is excellent and the cursing throughout the film is outrageous. “F***ing Bruges” is said about a hundred times in the film, if not more.