Top Ten Supporting Performances of the Decade – #8 Ralph Fiennes “In Bruges”.


“An Uzi? I’m not from South Central Los Angeles. I didn’t come here to shoot twenty black ten year olds in a drive-by. I want a normal gun for a normal person.”

“In Bruges” is a highly underrated film with great cast and story; but the real treat in the film is Ralph Fiennes who plays Harry Walters, the boss of the two hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) who are shacked up in Bruges under Walters’ direct orders. Fiennes has limited screen time and is mainly the focus of the prestige of the film. His performance can be equated much to the liking of William Hurt’s brilliant film stealing performance in “A History of Violence”. Fiennes shows up in Bruges in full form towards the end of the film to settle unfinished business. Fiennes is absolutely perfect in the film. He is so wickedly funny as he discusses situations that lay in the film. It’s amazing how Fiennes doesn’t look menacing himself, but when he takes a role like this, he looks and sounds evil. He deliverers his lines of dialogue through his teeth, he snarls and hisses his lines.

The most fascinating part about his character is he is also much like Hans Landa of “Inglorious Basterds”; meaning he is this essentially evil character, but what centers him is a sense of duty and honor. Walters has his “principles” and he sticks to them, right up until the end. He is a family man, and even though we see him lash out at his wife (calling her an “inanimate fucking object”), we still get the feeling that he is essentially a good father and husband and doesn’t allow his fits of rage and anger to erupt while around them. Or maybe he does.

What helps excel Fiennes’ performance is the excellent, excellent, excellent script written by Martin McDonagh (who also directed). The dialogue is so witty, and so well paced. It is stylized without being a British Tarantino knock off, ala Guy Richie. The script is remarkable; the core of the film circles around a much unforgivable act. Think of the worst thing you could do to someone, and then multiply it by two. The deep subject matter is made very bearable and strangely enjoyable by the witty banter these characters spit at one another. Especially Fiennes.

Fiennes displays an excellent amount of range as an actor, from his role in “The Quiz Show” to “Schindler’s List” to “The English Patient” to “An End of the Affair” to “In Bruges” and his small role in “The Hurt Locker”. I’ve always found Fiennes a remarkable actor, who has started an acting tree with his brothers. It’s much like the Baldwin’s, where Alec is obviously the best one. Harry Walters keeps you engaged and entertained as he goes on a shooting rampage throughout Bruges. If you’re not interested in seeing this film, suck it up and see it, if only for Ralph Fiennes.

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“In Bruges” 2008

“In Bruges” – 2008.  Dir.  Martin McDonagh.  With Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes.

“In Bruges” is an interesting film.  The set-up is two hitmen Ray and Kev (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) get sent to Bruges by their boss Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) after their last hit went terribly wrong.  They are told to sight see and wait for a call from their boss, and Gleeson couldn’t be happier wandering around the beautiful town that has so much history to it.  Farrell on the other hand can’t stand it, he hates being in Bruges, he hates everything about it.  The only thing he enjoys is going to the pub and getting “pissed”.  We slowly start to learn why Ray is wound extremely tight and is on edge.  The last hit they performed went so horribly wrong it leaves Ray in a permanent state of guilt and remorse.  Ray can’t even find absolution for what he has done, and he can’t even stand himself anymore.  He slowly starts to lose control until he falls in love with a beautiful woman, Chloe who robs tourists.

The film is remarkable in the sense that it masks it very, very heavy subject matter with witty and fresh dialogue that’s so funny it makes you laugh out loud.  It allows you to enjoy the character of Ray, even after you find out what he did.  You enjoy him for the outlandish things he says and does (including doing cocaine with a midget, while the midges discuss the inevitable war that is going to break out between blacks and whites).  Colin Farrell gives one of the best performances of his career, which did garnish him a Best Actor Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes, and it’s one of the rare occasions that the award actually meant something.

The real treat of the film is Harry Waters.  Waters is the ruthless boss of Ray and Kev, who isn’t seen till the end of the film.  He’s a viciously wicked, scary and funny character.  Ralph Fiennes gives his finest role since that of Charles Van Doren in “The Quiz Show“.  Fiennes’ performance was snubbed by all awards which to me is absolutely shocking.  I don’t mean to be short on Fiennes, but I’ll be posting something specifically about his performance very soon.

Review: 9/10.