After a lifetime (or at least twenty or so adult years of one) hiding in the dark with my not-so-unknown mistress Cinema, I have come to realize that not much surprises me anymore. I can go into a film knowing, within reasonable doubt, if I am going to like said film or not. And it is on very rare occasion that I am taken aback by my lack of precognition. Well this very thing happened to me just the other day when I walked into the Midtown Cinema in my hometown of Harrisburg PA and sat down for what I thought would be a mildly amusing at best mid-day matinee diversion. What I got may not have been the second coming of Citizen Kane or even M. Hulot's Holiday or even its black comedy brethren Fargo, but it sure was a surprise nonetheless. This little mid-day trifle ended up being an hilariously disturbing black comedy about a pair of hitmen hiding out in Bruges, Belgium. What a surprise.
Starring Colin Farell and Brendan Gleeson as the aforementioned hideaway hitmen, and co-starring Ralph Fiennes in one of the sidesplittingly funniest performances I have seen in a long long time, In Bruges wavers back and forth between uproarious comedy (all three actors are far more comically talented than usually given credit) and dark drama (and they are each equally adept at tragedy as well) never quite sure where it should alight itself thematically. Somehow though, what could easily be the death knell for a lesser film actually works to its advantage here. Hitting (pun intended?) on the themes of friendship and honour and right and wrong, while slipping at times into Bressonian territory (surely not something one expects in a comedy) Martin McDonagh's In Bruges, and not the Soviet Union, may indeed be what Churchill was describing with his "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" quote. Who knows? [03/12/08]