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Monday, August 15, 2011

In Bruges (2008)

Rating: 4/4

In Bruges gives off the initial appearance of a goofy dark comedy with a  slapstick performance by Collin Farrell, but it turns into a very emotional film with very real characters. Using a type of comedy that makes us unable to resist laughing at things we would usually try very hard to not laugh at, but surprisingly it never feels forced. The type of humor that In Bruges uses perfectly goes with the personalities of the characters making perfectly executed humor. Martin McDonagh creates a perfect blend of dirty, at times mean-spirited, comedy with genuine emotion that could easily bring someone to tears. An all around entertainment treat

Set in the beautiful city of Bruges where two hitmen, Ray (Collin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson), are sent by their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes). Needing a place to hideout after a job goes bad where Ray, accomplishes his job, this being his first,  of killing a priest, but in the process accidentally kills a young boy. Prior to learning this tragic detail we  see Ray as an unimpressed, immature young man who does not see the beauty and historical significance of Bruges that his partner Ken is so easily able to appreciate. Once we learn just how tortured Ray is by his mistake he becomes a very tragic character who is impossible not to feel for. His fears of what his deeds with cause him in the afterlife are so easily relatable. Collin Farrell's performance is so deep and satisfying on many levels; his immature humor and social flaws make me laugh till my sides hurt, on an emotional level he creates a tortured character that touched my heart.

Bored from sitting in their room Ray and Ken go out for some night sightseeing where they come across a film shoot where a "dwarf" dream-sequence is being shot. Ray works his socially awkward magic on Chloe (Clemence Poesy), a thief and drug dealer faking as a production assistant. The next night Ray goes on a very memorable first date with Chloe which involves a fight with her partner-in-crime/ex-boyfriend and stealing her stash of drugs. Back at the room, Ken finally receives contact from their boss Harry who gives him a job that will become one of the toughest decisions of his life. A simple story becomes much more complicated with that one phone call, which also brings much more depth to Ken's character. We learn just how much he cares about Ray, and the issues he has with his own morality. Brendan Gleeson shines once again, creating another tragic character.

Harry's character makes his first official appearance after Ken refuses to do his job, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see Ralph Fiennes arrival. A short-tempered crime boss is not the most original type of character, neither are hitmen. Harry is a man with values,his values that become one of the most important elements of the film. If I was to go into just what his values are I would rid you of the emotional experience that is so powerful. What I will say is that his values show a real respect for human life that you don't see in many films involving criminals.

 In Bruges is a film about hitmen that studies the tough life altering choices they must make instead of using all of its effort to show how they do their jobs.  I found that to be a major relief. Hitmen kill people, that is all we need to know. We are shown the job that ends up altering all three major characters lives and we see Ken's botched attempt, but there are no forced "hits" shoved into this story, just the ones that are vital to the plot. I was attracted into this story of betrayal and morality like a month to a flame.

Martin McDonagh is known for his plays which have been nominated for multiple Tony awards, he is considered one of the great living Irish playwrights. McDonagh enjoys writing plays more than film scripts because of his self-described respect for the "history of film." His Oscar winning short-film Six Shooter (2005) was his initiation into the film industry. The theme in both of films has been putting real, tragic characters who must make decisions that conflict with their own morals in unorthodox situations/professions. With In Bruges he perfects this theme with three great characters and three great performances in a great story.

In Bruges is an absolute filmmaking treat. A film that doesn't try to be great, and by not trying achieves greatness in such a natural way that makes it look so easy. From the three great performances in this one film it is Collin Farrell who steals the show with his wonderful performance that creates most of the laughs and drives the emotional attachment.  Here is a hysterical film that will put you on the floor with its dialogue-driven comedy. This great little film made me laugh louder than most comedies while breaking my heart with corrupted morality and rebuilt it with convincing realizations and hope. 


  1. Great review, you nailed it. The morality, as the fundamental value in the three characters' decisions, is the most importante piece of the plot's estructure.

  2. Wow. Excellent review, Adam. I loved "In Bruges", and I agree; you really do care for the characters. I laughed and almost even cried. A comedy with humanity it is.