Read this review of In Bruges starring Colin Farrell, and then make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win a copy of the script for the movie!
With the digital libraries of online streaming services expanding more and more, choosing which movie to watch has become difficult. I will be digging through these online queues in hope of bringing you a movie worth watching. This time, we're taking a look at Martin McDonagh's debut film, In Bruges (2008).
“Bruges is a shithole.”
While I’ve never been, this terse, to-the-point conclusion that Ray (Colin Farrell) exclaims upon his immediate arrival to the town that no one seems to know is in Belgium (I sure didn’t) sets the tone for some interesting dichotomies to follow in In Bruges (2008).
The very next line of dialogue uttered is a firm rebuttal from the calmer, almost fatherly Ken (Brendan Gleeson):
“Bruges is not a shithole.”
And while I’ll reserve a value judgment of the city of Bruges for someone who’s actually been, the “thriller” In Bruges is more of a character-driven dark comedy than the action packed, hitmen movie the plot and poster would lead you to believe—although the title is spot-on, it’s filmed on-location…“In Bruges.”
Directed by acclaimed Irish playwright and director, Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths), In Bruges follows Ray and Ken—two hitmen—to the “fairy-tale fucking town” of Bruges, Belgium after a hit goes very wrong—Ray accidentally kills a little boy in the process of knocking off a priest. Their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes), has instructed them to hide out in the remote, “most well-preserved medieval town” for two weeks—to the dismay of the childish Ray.
Ray is unimpressed by everything Bruges has to offer, pouting at every turn, until he happens upon a film being made and is entranced that it stars (his words not mine) a midget. His mood quickly changes as he witnesses the beautiful Chloe (Clémence Poésy) and strikes up a conversation with her—an awkward one, yet oddly endearing—securing a date.
Ken on the other hand, is soaking it in, allowing the history and charm of the city to come through. However, the trip turns dark very quickly and it’s clear that tragedy is on the horizon. I wouldn’t dare spoil the ending for you, but let’s just say that it’s as hilarious as it is sad.
McDonagh brilliantly lessens the tension that each climactic scene provides with genuinely funny dialogue and situations as incredible as they are inevitable. The casting is brilliant—how could it not be when it features Colin Farrell and what seems like half of the supporting cast of the Harry Potter series. Farrell seems legitimately comfortable with the role (possibly because, for once, he gets to just be Irish), and Gleeson is the perfect sympathetic hero (or bad guy, or hitman, or whatever you want to call it—he’s plays it perfectly). Ralph Fiennes may not be as sinister as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” but he suits the role well and looks much better with a nose.
Overall, In Bruges is an admirable film debut for McDonagh that provides plenty of laughs, a surprising amount of emotional range, and enough action to still classify it as a “thriller.”
And if you have trouble with understanding accents, I suggest winning the script and using it as a sort of follow along, because it can be somewhat easy to lose what they’re saying.
Or, I suppose you could just turn on the subtitles…
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Adam Wagner is an editor and writer for Criminal Element. Originally from Jacksonville, FL, Adam now lives in NYC where his hobbies include writing and performing stand-up and sketch comedy. Follow him on Twitter @shagner904