Martin McDonagh's In Bruges was one of my favorite films of 2008 – which is impressive because I knew next to nothing about it before seeing it. It's a tale of two gangsters, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) exiled to Bruges. Ray's a brazen hitman whose latest job went south. Ken is his mentor and as such is responsible for babysitting him in the tranquil town while their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) decides the best course of action.
The film is a whimsical and surprisingly funny tale, populated with an assortment of interesting characters, few more compelling than Ray and Ken. Watching the cocky young assassin interact with the older and more world-weary Ken provides countless moments of entertainment. However, psychopathic crime boss Harry gives both actors a run for their money, and he has a fraction of the screentime. I've selected one clip with two scenes that highlights Harry's penchant for hilarious violence to discuss. Be warned, there are some spoilers ahead.
In the first part of the clip, Ken has just put Ray on a train out of Bruges in order to save his life. He calls Harry to tell him not only what he's done, but that he'll be at the hotel awaiting his punishment. The scene then cuts to Harry's house, where the gangster seethes and then smashes the phone repeatedly. His wife comes in from the next room and tells him "It's an inanimate f***ing object." Harry stops for a second and then screams "You're an inanimate f***ing object!" and then tosses the phone one more time for good measure.
In the second (and funnier) sequence, Harry and Ken have met up in Bruges and want to go to the top of the local tower to resolve their unfinished business. As they approach, one of the employees tells them the tower is closed because an American had a heart attack at the top the day before (which ties back into an earlier scene involving Ray and an obese tourist ... ). Harry isn't used to not getting what he wants, so he offers the guy money to let them go up anyway. The tower guard wads up the cash, tosses it in Harry's face, and adds further insult to injury by berating him while poking the gangster in the forehead for emphasis. The look on Fiennes face is priceless, but matched by the "Oh no ... " look on Gleeson's. Gleeson moves around the guard, and then we see Fiennes begin to pistol-whip the guy in the background. Both scenes highlight the way McDonagh's film manages to mix comedy and violence in an intriguing fashion. With Harry, you're often laughing and wincing at the same time, which sounds odd on paper, but works amazingly well onscreen. Plus it's funny to see the usually reserved Ralph Fiennes going nuts and dropping F-bombs. At any rate, In Bruges is a charming and strange little film with an unforgettable cast of characters. Peek at the clip over here and see what you think.