Director Martin McDonagh is better known as a playwright who perfectly captures the colloquial dialogue of his Irish homeland.
Whatever you think you know about what to expect from In Bruges, I guarantee you you’re wrong. The trailers are misleading, painting it as a comedy. It does have plenty of funny moments that are timed perfectly, but I wouldn’t categorize it as a comedy. The interviews that writer/director Martin McDonagh have given hints that the film is more of a character study than anything, but I think that undersells what the film is really about and the themes it touches on.
The movie starts out with Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) arriving in Bruges, Belgium, to hide out after a hit they were ordered to make goes terribly wrong. Their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) tells them to stay there and keep a low profile until he contacts them. Ray is young and anxious to get out of the town that only has history and architecture to offer. Ken, on the other hand, finds the town fascinating and is enamored with the slower pace of life and local pride.
McDonagh, better known as a playwright who perfectly captures the colloquial dialogue of his Irish homeland, makes his feature film debut as a writer and director. His previous short film won him an Oscar and In Bruges shows that it has not gone to his head. The dialogue is fantastic and he keeps the actors’ pace rapidfire like a game of ping pong. He also finds a way to strike and interesting balance between profanity, humor, violence and an appreciation of the aesthetic.
Farrell gives a terrific, if slightly over-the-top, performance as a man who is struggling with the terrible thing he has done. One moment he is crying silently to himself, the next he is as excited as a little kid to see a movie being filmed about a midget…er, dwarf. Gleeson is a perfect complement to Farrell. His character is his exact opposite, but as an actor, Gleeson brings a certain amount of weight and seriousness to his role and enhances the scenes he and Farrell share, which are the majority of the scenes in the movie.
I don’t want to say too much more because it would ruin the surprises of the film. One theme to keep in mind while watching it, however, is the idea that you can’t run from your actions or what is going to happen to you. Even in Bruges, the consequences will find you if the boredom doesn’t kill you first. | Matthew F. Newlin