...in Bruges. Two Irish hit men (Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell) are
sent into hiding by their British boss (Ralph Fiennes) in Bruges,
Belgium after a botched job only to learn that the most damning job
awaits one of them just around the corner. Bruges is a picturesque
tourist trap built around the oldest and best maintained medieval city
in Belgium. Director and screenwriter Martin McDonagh bleeds the
setting and the material for all its worth and makes his feature film
debut in superb style.
The dark comedy built around the existential quandaries of hit men has been done to death over the years. If last summer's "You Kill Me" was the relentlessly dark and relentlessly sitcom-y take on the genre, then "In Bruges" is the hipster art film take on the theme. McDonagh deserves all the credit in the world for breathing life into the stale story by texturing the tonal shifts with crisp digital camera-work (that is surprisingly haunting), deep character development, and by creating a wonderful sense of place. Imagine a Graham Greene novel ("Brighton Rock" specifically comes to mind) modernized by David Mamet. The dialog is super smart and wickedly un-PC while the comedy parts are as gut-busting as the crime thriller parts are suspenseful.
McDonagh has also brought together an outstanding cast who thrive in the material. Farrell defies all odds and manages to be as sympathetic in the dramatic parts as he is charmingly sarcastic in the comedic parts. Brendan Gleeson gives a fantastically nuanced portrayal as Farrell's mentor and friend. Meanwhile, Ralph Fiennes channels the scary-as-hell energy he's used previously in "Schindler's List" and the recent "Harry Potter" films in a limber subversion that is a frighteningly fun to watch. The supporting cast is to die for, with Jordan Prentice spot-on as a coked-up dwarf actor shooting an abhorrent art film on the streets of Bruges, and Clemence Poesy coyly seductive and unforgettable as Farrell's unlikely local love interest.
Ultimately "In Bruges" meanders down too many cobblestone paths, and one scene near the end involving a bell tower stretches credibility but adds necessary dramatic effect. Certain plot elements will turn off a large segment of the viewing audience. However, those with the right mindset will be greatly rewarded. "In Bruges" is hilarious, contemplative, sometimes scathing, often nihilistic, but marked by a shockingly hopeful undercurrent while tones shift and the colors of the human condition undulate in McDonagh's insightful light. The arrival of a commanding talent has been heralded...in Bruges.
Action / Comedy / Crime / Drama
Action / Comedy / Crime / Drama
London based hit men Ray and Ken are told by their boss Harry Waters to lie low in Bruges, Belgium for up to two weeks following their latest hit, which resulted in the death of an innocent bystander. Harry will be in touch with further instructions. While they wait for Harry's call, Ken, following Harry's advice, takes in the sights of the medieval city with great appreciation. But the charms of Bruges are lost on the simpler Ray, who is already despondent over the innocent death, especially as it was his first job. Things change for Ray when he meets Chloe, part of a film crew shooting a movie starring an American dwarf named Jimmy. When Harry's instructions arrive, Ken, for whom the job is directed, isn't sure if he can carry out the new job, especially as he has gained a new appreciation of life from his stay in the fairytale Bruges. While Ken waits for the inevitable arrival into Bruges of an angry Harry, who feels he must clean up matters on his own, Ray is dealing with his own ...
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December 13, 2011 at 03:16 PM