In Bruges DVD
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Directed by Martin McDonagh
Produced in 2008
Main Language - English
Set against a backdrop of church spires and canals, In Bruges is a jet-black comic thriller that tells the tale of two Dublin hit men who find themselves on an unscheduled sightseeing tour of the city.
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play Ray and Ken Ė the first is a fledgling trigger man uneasy with his career choice, the second a seasoned killer with a taste for culture. Their dialogue and interplay is what makes this, playwright Martin McDonaghís debut feature, such a terrific film. Farrellís performance is frankly Ė and surprisingly Ė triumphant. As Ray heís explosive: with eyebrows contorting like caterpillars at war, heís a self-destructive cocktail of testosterone and crushing guilt. Gleeson is also superb as the older mentor, determined to make the most of this short foreign junket. Alas, his efforts to civilise Ray fall flat. Drugs, guns and booze enter the equation Ė and Ralph Fiennes cuts a lethal shine as the sinister Harry, the boss back home whose cockney drawl haunts the two Irishmen throughout their trip.
Crime comedy directed by Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh. After being ordered to murder a priest in London, hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are told by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) to hide out in Bruges, Belgium for a couple of weeks. Finding themselves very much outside their comfort zones, Ray and Ken are drawn into increasingly dangerous situations with locals, tourists, and a film shoot, and when Harry finds out that Ken and Ray haven't been keeping their heads down, he travels to Bruges himself to deal with the wayward pair.
Publisher: Universal Pictures
Length: 107 mins
Aspect ratio: 1:2.35 CinemaScope
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 11th August 2008
Cat No: 8255489
Subtitles: Subtitles for hard of hearing (English)
- Documentaries: When in Bruges, strange Bruges, a boat trip around Bruges and F%@king Bruges
“In Bruges (...It's in Belgium) Review”
by Mathew Dorrell on 2nd June 2014
In Bruges is the fantastic, Oscar-nominated Crime/Comedy caper from Martin McDonagh. And yes, he did follow this gem with the not-so-fantastic Seven Psychopaths, but t... Read on
In Bruges is the fantastic, Oscar-nominated Crime/Comedy caper from Martin McDonagh. And yes, he did follow this gem with the not-so-fantastic Seven Psychopaths, but thatís a review for another day (maybe). Instead Iíll focus on the incredibly dark, insanely offensive but gut-bustingly hilarious In Bruges.
It starts in a very somber, slow manner, introducing us to the cry-baby that is Ray, played by Colin Farrell in a career-best performance, and Ken, played in a wonderfully reserved manner by the ever-great Brendan Gleeson. The two bicker back and forth about anything and everything, itís brilliant. Theyíre like an old couple going on holiday that only one of them wants to go on. To quote Ray himself - Bruges is a shithole. The dynamic between the two is instantly entertaining, providing us with context to who they are as characters as well as giving us a lot to laugh at. The wonderfully picturesque streets in Bruges provides a fairytale-like background for these two to dirty up with their horribly uncultured manners. To break it down: we are dealing with two of the most neurotic, conspicuous hitmen in Europe.
And thatís what they are. The first third of the film moves at a leisurely pace, not giving away too much information but dropping tidbits for us to pick up on and whet our appetites for what is to come. The jokes come thick and fast in the first half an hour, with Ray insulting an overweight American family being one of the many highlights, but the best part is with Kenís urge to see the sights being completely undermined by Rayís ineptitude. Another highlight would definitely be Ray spouting Somehow I believe, Ken, that the balance shall tip in the favor of culture, like a big fat fucking retarded fucking black girl on a see-saw opposite a dwarf. The humour is very much in your face, with this film unequivocally earning its 18 rating. But my God itís a load of fun to watch Ray and Ken constantly battle over completely inane things.
Now, the film picks up its stride brilliantly by developing Rayís character into more than just a whining and complaining man-child, in fact it does something very clever. Once we know why Ray and Ken are in Bruges, the tone of the film changes completely. Itís a fascinating filmmaking technique that does the narrative complete justice. Ray becomes more layered, as we peel under his psyche and see just what he is thinking we realise that his seemingly extroverted persona is hiding his more dark, introverted thoughts. Heís a hitman who has done an unspeakable act (donít worry, I wonít spoil it for you) and he awaits the consequences with a quivering lip and constant complaining. Heís really just a nervous wreck.
The introduction of Harryís character is also woven into the story subtly. So subtle, in fact, that he doesnít actually show up on camera until midway through the film. But Ralph Fiennes does an incredible job of molding what could have been a typical gangster villain type character into one of principles, albeit jaded, and quick-fire dialogue that is hilarious and terrifying (Youíre an inanimate fucking object!). But for now, we still get to see the wild antics of Ray and Ken as they stumble across everything surreal, from racist dwarves to the worst robber in Belgium. Itís a cool, fun ride that we are on but right around the corner lies a more sinister turn of events, only we canít see it yet because weíre having way too much fun watching Ray karate chop a dwarf in the neck whilst on Cocaine.
So, in the final forty minutes of the film, we get a real mix of pitch-black humour and bloody violence, the latter of which we havenít had much or any of until this point. Harry comes to Bruges to deal with Ray, and we get a cat-and-mouse style chase through the cobbled streets of Bruges that ratchets the tension up from zero to edge-of-your-seat in a matter of minutes. We almost forget that we have been laughing for the duration of this film because we are too busy biting our nails. It was around this point that I realised that this film had truly separated itself from most other British comedies. It took a risk that might not have paid off if the actors werenít as eye-catching as they are, or if the script wasnít as exact as it is, but that stuff doesnít matter because everything is in its right place here.
Donít get me wrong, this film still manages to make you burst out laughing just minutes after youíve been put through the ringer. One particularly comical scene features Harry facing off against Ray in a hotel, Harry being downstairs and Ray upstairs. The only thing between them is a heavily pregnant worker who refuses to move. The dialogue exchanges between the three is so subversively fantastic that it stands out as one of the funniest scenes in the entire film. Itís not often that a film can do this either, it takes an assured director to pull off a film like In Bruges. Luckily, we have that.
So the climax is daunting, beautiful and enchanting, which you might not be expecting. We have a night-time chase scene that seems to go on for ages but itís only because we are rooting so strongly for Ray that we canít help but feel that we are running through these labyrinth-esque streets with him. The ending manages to fit the film tonally, which is not easy to do when itís so back and forth between laughing out loud and wincing in disgust. We get an ambiguous last line, so yeah, itís a film where the ending isnít spelled out for you. But arenít those just the best ones?
In Bruges is a fascinating piece of cinema, and considering it was Martin McDonaughís first feature length film, massive kudos should be given to him. Itís not easy to create complex characters that challenge the viewers own moral compass, but even harder to then make the viewer laugh while they do it. Itís almost a shame that Seven Psychopaths isnít even on the same scale as this wonderfully crafted crime caper, but alas, Iím only here to pay tribute to In Bruges Ė one of the most irreverently funny, nail-bitingly intense films to have come out in recent years. Itís not subtle at all, but thatís the ironic twist of the whole film. Itís genius.