I spent two weeks in Belgium back in December 2010. Britain had denuded back to the Ice Age and all flights were grounded. What began as a cheeky booze-fuelled weekend in Brussels turned out to be one long, cold, depressing nightmare of manky hostels and an overload of waffles. It was dirty, dull, and overwhelmingly boring. I despised the place by my departure, a 35-hour bus journey back to Edinburgh the cherry on the cake (or waffle). Considering recent developments in Belgium, however, it wasn’t that bad in retrospect.
There was one sort of magical vignette – a day in Bruges, inspired by the movie … In Bruges (2008). A character in the film describes it as a “fairytale” place, and he’s spot on. A strange otherworldliness permeates the streets, the town an eerie remnant, it seems, of the Middle Ages.
The brilliance of the movie is in its transposing of a contemporary comedy thriller into this antiquated dwelling where time briefly stands still. Perhaps being *in* Bruges is modern-day purgatory. A belter of a movie.