In Bruges – Ending Explained & Film Analysis

In Bruges (2008) is a film that you will either ardently hate without seeing any meaning in it, or fall in love to the depths of your soul, although you will hardly be able to explain exactly what for. It is one of three legendary feature films by the English screenwriter, director and producer Martin McDonagh, who also donated Seven Psychopaths and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

It is worth noting that the original “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths”, although they found their circle of loyal admirers, however, turned out to be much less popular with the general public than the much more straightforward and obvious “Three billboards on the border of Ebbing, Missouri. “, In which McDonagh seemed to deliberately shove all the burning topics in the expectation of” Oscar “. Therefore, we can say with a fairly high degree of confidence that if you liked “Three billboards …”, then these two pictures, most likely, “will not go to you.” And if after watching an Oscar-winning film you want something more delicious, refined, strange and ambiguous, then do not be lazy to evaluate other works of the director.

Why Bruges?

The theme of the attitude towards this city is discussed very actively throughout the film. On the one hand, Ken and Harry find this place fabulous, magical and atmospheric. On the other hand, Ray, who perceives Bruges exclusively as a prison. Unbearable, disgusting, gloomy, overwhelming.

Ray's fairytale city tours are not in the least fascinating

Ray’s fairytale city tours are not in the least fascinating

And if Ken sincerely enjoys the time spent in this city, enjoys visiting the sights and is interested in the history of Bruges, then Ray is looking for some more cheeky entertainment that will help him, at least for a while, disconnect from the thoughts of the hated French city. By the way, it is considered one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in Europe with an abundance of historical monuments preserved from the deep Middle Ages.

Ken enjoys visiting temples, museums and other sights of Bruges

Ken enjoys visiting temples, museums and other sights of Bruges

Martin McDonagh, who acted here not only as a director, but also as a screenwriter (in principle, he makes films only according to his scripts), he loves to travel very much: in Europe, in the States, and in other parts of our planet. And while visiting Bruges, he, according to him, experienced two contradictory sensations: on the one hand, the beauty of this city caused him genuine delight. On the other hand, the fabulous streets, cobbled pavements and ancient buildings literally bored him, making him want to return to more familiar landscapes as soon as possible.

There will be no positive characters here

Actually, the scripts of the first two studio works by McDonagh are so interesting that there are no positive characters in them in principle. No images of bright, immaculate heroes or heroines defending truth and goodness in this evil cruel world, preserving their principles, in spite of everything, loving to the point of stupidity and ready to follow their dear people even to the ends of the world. And even no characters who at first behave like villains, and then it turns out that they just have a hard life, but in general they are almost saints and very, very good (as in “Three Billboards …”).

Midget Jimmy is a racist cocaine with delusional ideas about a war between blacks and whites

Midget Jimmy is a racist cocaine with delusional ideas about a war between blacks and whites

Someone would call this approach a parade of freaks. Someone – realism. The fact is that such a rejection of characters with a halo on their heads, emitting bright light and plunging others into darkness, makes each character much better distinguishable. In this gloom, not illuminated by the face of a worthy ideal, all the other characters are quite well lit. And we can consider them with all shades and midtones, with relief, with the shadows cast by them.

Heroes that are difficult to label

Ray is a contract killer who accidentally killed a child and, because of this, was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And he’s not that terrible. Ken is a killer tired of life, who, nevertheless, manages to observe some of his inner morality and see the beauty in this world. And he, in fact, is also not so bad. Harry is a good father to his children and far from the most cruel bandit in the universe. And, if you think about it, he is also not frankly evil, he does not cause the hatred and rejection that stereotypical movie villains usually provoke.

"I push drugs to Belgian filmmakers," Chloe answers when asked what she does.

“I push drugs to Belgian filmmakers,” Chloe answers when asked what she does.

The same can be said for all the supporting characters, including Chloe. With her, Martin McDonagh managed to achieve an impressive effect: when she first appears on the screen, we begin to think that this is it. Here is that bright image that will put everything in its place and give us a standard, seen many times and well-mastered scheme for constructing the plot and the characters in it. But only a few minutes pass, and the light image dissipates, turning to dust. The girl, who seemed sweet and bright, turns out to be so simple, although, again, not frankly terrifying. And again we do not know what yoke to hang on her.

A senseless cycle of death

The characters at the end of this film are dying like flies, but this does not cause much sadness – in fact, this is why it is called a black tragicomedy. The partly accidental death of Ken, who shortly before her decided to save Ray’s life, looks like a completely natural conclusion to the story of this character. Harry’s ridiculous suicide, confusing a dwarf with a child, looks like a funny death of a funny man with a funny manner of speech and principles. And, finally, the grave condition of Ray, who had previously constantly thought about suicide, also seems to be quite a good outcome for him, even if his death is not shown to us.

Harry, the character of Rafe Fiennes, blended into the atmosphere of Bruges surprisingly harmoniously

Harry, the character of Rafe Fiennes, blended into the atmosphere of Bruges surprisingly harmoniously

By the way, in the original version of the script, Ray still survived the shootout in Bruges and returned to London, but did not leave thoughts of committing suicide.

The idea of ​​suicide as a reason for laughter

Perhaps the best advice you can give for enjoying this movie is to keep in mind that it belongs to the genre of black tragicomedy. Everything that happens on the screen is a priori somewhat farce. Including Ray’s obsessive thoughts of suicide.

"I can't, so, can you?"  - Ray asks Ken about his own murder

“I can’t, then, can you?” – Ray asks Ken about his own murder

His desire to commit suicide looks really funny. It would seem, well, what kind of conflicts with your conscience can a hired killer have? What difference can it make to him whom he killed during the next mission? However, Ray does not behave like a hardened thug, but like a sensitive and subtle nature for whom suffering is as natural as breathing. And in this format, suicide appears as a reason for Homeric laughter. May this not be perceived as a reproach to real people who have suicidal tendencies and the need to seek psychological help to solve this problem. Because Ray at the therapist’s appointment, obviously, would have looked even more funny than with a barrel at his temple.

In Bruges is, perhaps, a cinematic analogue of “contemporary art”, which has become the talk of the town. You will not find a clear main idea here that can be expressed in a couple of sentences and taken into account. Rather, you can enjoy seeing it all as a whole as a ridiculous abstract picture that seems strange and illogical, but somehow continues to grab your attention and does not allow you to take your eyes off it.

 

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