Quentin Tarantino’s post – modernist neo – noir crime black comedy film ‘Pulp Fiction’ exploded to popularity in 1994 for his use of a peculiar film structure and iconic use of seemingly random dialogue about cheeseburgers to humorize and humanize his characters. And as a result of this popularity, many filmmakers have taken to borrowing and adapting certain elements from his film into using for their own. ‘In Bruges’ is one of these films which one can see has gathered some inspiration from ‘Pulp Fiction’.
The ‘In Bruges’ is a black comedy crime film written and directed by the seasoned playwright Martin McDonagh and it stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in the lead roles of Ray and his mentor Ken, two Irish hitmen who hide out in Bruges, Belgium after a botched job, acting as tourists. These two hitmen are surprisingly human despite what some action, thriller films in Hollywood would lead us to believe. Like the characters of ‘Pulp Fiction’, who read books in the toilet and take part in dance competitions, the hitmen here, go to art museums, visits a famous church in the city, make small talk with the owner of the hotel they stay in. One of the characters even says that (he) (wants) a normal gun for a normal person. Hilarious yes, but quite true for despite the fact that he kills people for a living, he still is a normal person with a wife and children.
Just like ‘Pulp Fiction’, the film humorizes and humanizes its killers into characters that are both sympathetic and hilarious to watch.
Attention is needed to be given to Colin Farrell’s and Brendan Gleeson’s performance as both play fantastically in their respective roles.Farrell plays as the a twitchy, witty and emotionally tortured man convincingly, proving that despite his pretty boy looks, he is a great character actor that is able to portray darker emotions like anguish and self hatred with realism and depth.
Gleeson who has already proven to be a great actor in his role as Winston Churchill in ‘Into the Storm’, too does great as Ray, the reluctant assassin with a change of heart, providing a moral figure to Ray when he is at his darkest hour.
The music is done by Carter Burwell, who is most well known for his frequent collaboration with the Coen Brothers, scoring some of their best films such as ‘Fargo’. In ‘In Bruges’, his score creates a melancholic, spiritual mood of lingering to the film and at the start of the film, as the two first step foot in Bruges, the score turns the pointless bickering between the two hitmen about whether the city is a ‘shithole’ into hints of a greater power within the city.
And indeed, with the way, the film is shot, one would assume so. McDonagh makes use of telephoto lenses and the shallow depth of field to turn the old Gothic architecture and lights into a blur, turning the environment into a land that belongs more to a fairy tale rather than a real city.
In fact, at times when the characters are set within the city, especially at night, the human appearance of the characters stand out in the background, as if they do not belong within the setting.
‘In Bruges’ is a great example of a film that is both entertaining and artistic. Proving to be more than just a funny film with some intense scenes of shooting, but also as a study of human morality and the afterlife.