I have seen my first 2008 movie (finally)! I have spent the first two months of the year catching flicks from last year, some still out in the theaters, others new to DVD, and avoiding the mostly awful fair that gets released in January and February each year. But now March is here and good indie movies and decent studio films are beginning to be released (or at times, unleashed) upon the public. And much to my surprise my first 2008 movie is undoubtedly going to win Best Picture at next year’s Oscars…10,000 BC! This film is amazing… no I am kidding. I will never see this movie. It looks awful. I hate that movies like this are allowed to be made and that so many of them make money, thus mandating that more of these films get made. Roland Emmerich clearly knows no shame.

In reality, my first film of 2008 is not going to win any Oscars, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. The film is called In Bruges and stars about a quarter of the cast of Harry Potter (Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson and Clemence Poesy) plus Colin Farrell. I don’t want to tell you too much about the plot, but it concerns two hitman (Gleeson and Farrell) being ordered by their boss (Fiennes) to hide out in Bruges after a hit goes awry.

The film attempts to do something very difficult to achieve in film, and that is combine comedy (often at the expense of the city of Bruges) and drama within the context of every scene. It is not a film that gets you laughing and then turns serious on you; instead, at all moments, it attempts to be both light and dark. And probably about 8 out of every 10 scenes, In Bruges, nails it. A great deal is owed to the writing and the acting and occasionally to the directing (mostly for not ending a scene short even when it seems to be starting to drag–the payoff is almost always worth the time invested). The movie’s best scene, which surrounds a telephone call, demonstrates the prowess of all involved (especially Ralph Fiennes) and the wonderful use of light and dark motifs.  

A moment should be spent on Colin Farrell, as he is the lead. At first, my wife and I were not sure if we were into his performance, but as the crux of the story filled in around him, his performance choices made sense and, I believe, helped elevate the film. Farrell is essentially a child (not literally, remember, he is a hitman), and the good  and  bad nature of humankind surrounding his child-like innocence plays very effectively. Farrell, like most children, must learn that the innocence of childhood eventually leaves, usually through our own actions in the world.

If there is a problem with the movie it is the ending. It does not ruin the film by any stretch, but it may be a bit too self-important for this type of film. This film does not attempt to be a ‘Big’ film, but the ending makes you think that the filmmakers forgot that. But again, the ending does not undo all the fine work of the first hour and forty-five minutes. 

There are many other subtle and not so subtle metaphors and such that could be mentioned, but this should be enough for you to know if you would be in to this film or not. In Bruge is rated R, but there is plenty of crude language and bloodshed for teens to be happy (just kidding, sort of). It is only playing at one theater where I live, so you will probably have to wait until DVD, but definitely give it a shot.

My rating…78

Take it easy.