In Bruges (2008) Poster

(2008)

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9/10
A Breath of Fresh Air: Review from Sundance
billion_mucks23 January 2008
For those who might not know the name, director Martin McDonagh is an Irish playwright who won the Oscar last year for his short film "Six Shooter" about a chance encounter on a train, and that film's star Brendan Gleeson has returned as Ken, one of two hit men sent to the medieval city of Bruges in Belgium along with his partner Ray (Colin Farrell) to rest and lay low after a hit gone horribly wrong. Ray is a miserable bastard who makes it clear he's not happy about being in Bruges, but Ken convinces him that their boss Harry has a job for them there, as well as allowing them a chance for some sightseeing, none of which improves Ray's mood. Things look up when he meets the beautiful local woman Chloe, played by French actress Clémence Poésy--you may remember her as Fleur Delacore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire--and scores himself a date, which also goes horribly wrong due to Ray shooting off his big mouth. From there things continue to go south as Ray and Ken get into all sorts of messes and meet strange characters, all of whom will play a part in the larger picture.

There aren't too many non-Belgian films set in Belgium, and Bruges is a beautiful but odd place to set an entire movie. You'll probably learn more about the place than you ever need to know as Ken narrates their sightseeing excursions with a few factoids about the place. The entire first act is driven by the chemistry between Farrell and Gleason as they deliver rapid-fire patter that reminds one of McDonagh's background as a playwright, but it makes them as immediately endearing as Vincent and Jules in "Pulp Fiction," allowing for an even bigger impact as things happen to them. Our first encounter with the boys' boss Harry is an expletive filled telegraph and an equally amusing phone conversation with Ken, making it obvious that this is a mobster cut from the same cloth as Ben Kingsley's Don Logan. Those who don't recognize the voice will be thrilled when they learn who plays Harry, because it's a pleasant surprise.

This is easily Colin Farrell's best role and performance in a long time, one that allows him to show a lot of range, not just as the big-mouthed prat we assume Ray to be, but also as a thoughtful man distraught about what happened in London. Having seen the error of his ways, he feels the need to make right, even if he hides it with a lot of complaining and arguments, and that carries over to Gleason's Ken, continuing his great run with McDonagh.

McDonagh has created a clever script that interweaves its small cast of characters into an intricate crime caper that mixes humor, violence and true heartfelt human emotions into a brilliant debut feature. Just when you think you know where things are going, McDonagh throws a sharp curve ball at you and then another, and another, and pretty soon, what started as a two-handed talkie has turned into a hold-your-breath action flick, when Harry turns up in Bruges to rectify some business that Ken has botched. Even so, it never loses what made the first half so charming and entertaining, because McDonagh's impressive dialogue remains at the forefront for the extended confrontation between Ken and Harry. The ending might be somewhat grim for some tastes going by the lightness of what's gone before, but the way everything is tied together makes it all worth it.

Anyone worried that Tarantino and Ritchie's best work might be behind them, can revel in the promise of McDonagh's take on the crime-comedy genre, as this talented filmmaker shows that "Six Shooter" was no fluke and this movie begins what's likely to be a long and promising film career. On top of that, if "In Bruges" doesn't end up being the funniest and most quotable movies of the year, then it should be very close
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9/10
"They're Filming Midgets..."
DaveTheNovelist16 February 2008
...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.
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8/10
Quite Surprised.
allison-1908 February 2008
Going into this movie, I didn't have the highest expectations for it. However, I went to see it anyways, and let me just say that by the end credits I was completely shocked out how much I actually liked this movie. It was not only very funny but you were able to connect with the characters in a way you didn't think you would. The plot was def. very interesting and kept my attention the whole way through. Only real problem I had with the movie was that it was a little bit too long, but it didn't take away from anything. I should also say that I'm not a huge Colin Farrell fan, but after this movie I believe that he has proved that he can hold his own with the other leading men out there. I thought there were some beautiful moments that they captured on film where you see him dealing with his characters inner demons. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for something "different", if you're sick of seeing the same "hollywood-esque" movies, then please give this movie a shot. If anything, enjoy it for the witty dialogue.
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8/10
Atonement and Existentialism In Bruges
colinbarnard-110 February 2008
A European film through and through, showing its deep theatrical roots, "In Bruges" works on may levels, and is a fine night at the cinema.

The film follows the denouement of a "job" gone bad for two Irish hit men, who are forced to hole up in Bruges, Belgium, and really can't stand the inactivity. The forced waiting, a symbolic purgatory in both assassins' struggle for absolution, gives Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell a chance to act through some marvelous comic dialogue.

The film itself looks like it was filmed in an area of the old city of Bruges that is no more than a 500 square metre radius. It doesn't matter, because the film is a character study more than anything, and like all good theatre, the character interplay allows the audience to forget the confined spaces.

Ralph Fiennes comes into the film late basically stealing Ben Kingsley's character from "Sexy Beast". This has to be an absolutely deliberate choice, so can't really be criticized. The writing is so good that Fiennes can have real fun with it. All the actors do, as a matter of fact.

I have been deeply suspicious of Colin Farrell's ability to read a script in the past. His choices of projects in the past has been spotty. Not this time: his acting ability is brought to the fore by director and screenwriter Martin McDonagh. Farrell gives a very strong performance as a morally challenged hit-man.

Brendan Gleeson has been around forever, and is a renowned character actor. You may remember him from "Braveheart" as Hamish Campbell, Mel Gibson's loyal adjutant. He is able to completely bury himself in this part. Colin Farrell has the capacity to reach these heights as well, and in fact, in this film, shows many of the mannerisms and intensity of Russell Crowe (whom I consider to be the best actor on the planet).

I appreciated the comedy and satire working hand in hand with the moral complexity of the characters' inner struggles. It makes for a very satisfying film, one that is much more than entertainment. When you consider what the budget was in comparison to many Hollywood films, "In Bruges" serves as a reminder that it is the script and the quality of the direction that makes a film. Why Hollywood thinks they can just throw money into a project and expect people to come to the cinema is beyond me.
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8/10
What a Great Movie
Michael-Giuffre-27 February 2008
I've used IMDb for years but have never felt the urge to post a review until now. I had the pleasure of attending an advanced screening of this movie in NYC last night to which Colin Farrell attended. I bought the screening tickets just wanting to bring my fiancé to see some celebrities in person while not knowing much about the movie. I figured it would be a "hard-to-understand" foreign, indie film whose humor would be lost on a "dumb American." However, the truth was absolutely the opposite. My hard-to-please fiancé agreed.

The movie is a bit slow for the first half but it's entirely necessary to set the mood and the contrast between that and the second half. That's all I'll say so as not to spoil anything. It is really a great movie. There's comedy, beautiful cinematography, and awesome action scenes, albeit scattered throughout and absent at times when the viewer may be growing weary. I'd highly recommend seeing this movie. It's definitely worth the price of a movie ticket while most of the crap out there these days isn't worth the cost of the paper they print the tickets on.

Let us all know what you think after you see it.
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8/10
Nice Blend Of Drama And Comedy
kasserine8 February 2008
One of the problems with seeing a trailer for a film is it creates an expectation. If it raises expectations, and the film delivers, great. However, if the film is less then expected, then the viewer feels cheated. The best case scenario is the one I found myself in before I saw In Bruges. Low expectations.

After seeing the trailer, In Bruges looked like a plodding British comedy with little originality and repetitious humor, hence the low expectations. Yet, In Bruges exceeded my minimal expectations, and, unlike my impression from the trailer, was an original drama with good acting and a nice blend of comedy mixed in. It was funny in the right places and appropriately dramatic when the story shifted into high gear towards the end.

Set in, no surprise here, Bruges, Belgium, the plot focuses on two London hit men, Ray played by Colin Farrell, and Ken, played by Brendan Gleeson. The pair is sent to Belgium after Ray botches his first hi. And therein lies the humor, Ray has no interest in being in the medieval city, and Ken wants to sight see.

I've never really liked Colin Farrell but who knew he had such a good sense of comedic timing? There is a running gag involving fighting with a bottle, and karate, that he manages to keep fresh as it pops up throughout the film. Brendan Gleeson's character provides the moral center and plays the straight man to Farrell's Ray. This works well as the movie turns more serious towards the end. However, for my money, the best performance is delivered by Ralph Fiennes who plays Harry the pair's criminal overlord back in London. Whereas Gleeson character embodies the moral center, Fiennes's Harry fills the role of principled immorality, if there is such a thing. Fiennes creates a character with a dubious moral center and is a quite believable figure of menace when he travels to Bruges to square off with Ken. Also, of note, is Jordan Prentice, an irritable dwarf who's in town to act in a movie filming there. His ramblings in one scene, about a coming race war, is worth the price of admission right there.

The only aspect of the film that didn't work for me was Ray's love interest. Early in the film he manages to woo Chloe, a drug dealer with, drum roll please, a heart of gold. For my tastes, the budding romance seems a little forced and comes across more as a vehicle for jokes and drama. But it's a small thing and I doubt anyone but me would notice.

I intentionally left a lot of plot points out, because, as I've mentioned, this film surprised me in a good way and I don't won't to ruin it for anyone else.

In Bruges is a good film. Go see it.

At the very least, it'll make you want to visit Bruges.
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8/10
You got to stick with your principles…In Bruges
jaredmobarak23 February 2008
I think that I will shortly be purchasing the Oscar winning short film Six Shooter from 2004. I've got an iTunes gift card for just the job. The thought occurred to me after seeing the wonderful debut from director Martin McDonagh, In Bruges. After seeing the trailer, which really worked for me, many times and wondering at how it is from an Oscar winning director yet never hearing of the name, I did some research. While he already has more little gold men than Alfred Hitchcock, his actual feature premiere is what has opened this weekend. It is Irish, most definitely, and if you have trouble with the accent, maybe you should steer clear until in comes out on DVD, however, if you can cope, this is a smart pitch black comedy. When I say pitch black, I mean black hole expanse of darkness. The trailer leads you to believe it will be an uproarious time, and while it is very funny and very smart, there is a tragic event that is held over the proceedings, lending a somber shadow over all that occurs. In the end though, it is consistent with its wit and drama, telling an intriguing story and never relying on the laughs to hide any plot point that the creators may not have wanted to work out to completion.

If I am to gripe about anything, it will be the ending. Not the very end, however, as that is absolutely perfect. The camera-work, voice-over, and final shot cannot be argued, it is the climax that happens just before that rings false. It is the only moment like that, though, so I don't hold it against the film. McDonagh needed a way to get his characters to their arc's conclusions and if that means turning one of the roles, at first seeming to be there for jokes, into a pawn for a symmetrical kind of convenience, I'll give him that reprieve. As far as fitting with the story, yeah it works; it has to because the incident is alluded to unknowingly at many times during the course of the sightseeing romp. I guess I think it fits too well and wish McDonagh could have come up with another way to do it.

Besides that, though, In Bruges is a great time at the theatre. Colin Farrell is steadily becoming a favorite of mine with his precise comic timing and broad facial expressions. I may be one of the few people on earth that loved his comedic turn in Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, (yes I truly believe the comedy was intentional), and here he shows it was not a fluke. Kind of similar to his scene-stealing role in Intermission, he is a punk with a lousy disposition and disregard for tact. Here, however, he also has a conscience. This tug-of-war is ripe for laughs as he is a sweet guy, he just doesn't know how to keep his mouth shut. One-liners are in abundance and you will be laughing continuously. Brendan Gleeson helps this fact by being an effective straightman to play off of. He knows the score and tries to enjoy the "fairytale" city while his cohort sulks and puts on "moods like a five year old" because, honestly, unless you grew up on a farm and were slightly retarded, Bruges is really just hell on earth. (Actually, the city looks pretty great and I wouldn't mind checking it out once in my lifetime.) The periphery roles, and there are many, also add depth and interest to the film. Small characters like Eric Godon's alcove loving gun dealer, Jordan Prentice as a horse-tranquilizer taking midget actor (he played Howard the Duck, that is awesome), and Clémence Poésy as the love interest and enigma Cholë all are fun and never quite feel just thrown in as jokes, but instead integral parts to the story. Of course, the great Ralph Fiennes is involved too. His accent and vocabulary rivals Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast and unfortunately is a much smaller part than anticipated from the trailer. Well maybe not unfortunately, because if he was in more it might have become a gimmick. I also couldn't help stop thinking of Harry Potter with Mad-Eye Moody, Lord Voldemort, and Fleur Delacour all involved.

I highly recommend this film for anyone looking to see a good drama with comic overtones. Don't go in thinking this is to be a total good time, with laughs a minute, there is so much more to the tale that you may not expect or necessarily be hoping for. At times it is very dark and drains every molecule of happiness out of your heads, but thankfully a good joke or line will be coming shortly to alleviate the depression.
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9/10
Plenty of Alcoves in Bruges
David Ferguson9 February 2008
Greetings again from the darkness. Award winning playwright Martin McDonagh brings his amazing writing talents to the big screen and scores with his first turn as a feature film director. The city of Bruges (yes, in Belgium) is the perfect setting for the multi-layered story. Its well preserved medieval architecture is like an character unto itself.

Colin Farrell delivers by far his best performance to date. He is funny, dangerous, sexy and emotional throughout. This is exceptional acting from a guy who tends to disappoint. Of course, it helps to have magnificent writing and this one most certainly delivers on that front. The dialogue is quirky and quick ... so tune in early.

Strong work also from Brendon Gleeson, who all will recognize from "Gangs of New York" and the Harry Potter series. He is a tough guy with a streak of humanity. The third piece of the puzzle is Ralph Fiennes as the mastermind bad guy. The supporting work is fine from Jordan Prentice as the dwarf actor (sadly Mr. Prentice is most famous for playing Howard the Duck) and a very cute Clemence Poesy as Farrell's odd love interest.

Very few writers can write dialogue like this and even fewer can juggle as many layers without making a film seem busy, crowded or forced. Hopefully Mr. McDonagh will bring more of his work to the big screen ... he certainly adds a touch of class!
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10/10
Fantastic mix of humour and brutality!
stack8889 February 2008
Well, to be honest I wasn't sure what to expect from this film, nor am I fan of Colin Farrell, in fact I really didn't like him at all previously....but now I have a new found respect for him and with Gleason and Fienes both in excellent form coupled with a very quick and witty script and some surprisingly violent scenes, this film really has something for everyone (except the young kids).

I go to see 2 or 3 movies every week and this is just about the best one I've seen since Last King of Scotland and The Departed came out a couple of years back.

10/10
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10/10
Of Mice and Hit Men.
Jay Hurst22 June 2008
A lot of reviews see fit to give a thorough plot summary, so I'll just talk b*llocks instead.

In Bruges is a grown up gangster film not because it uses the word f*ck very often, though it does, because even a child can type 'f*ck' repetitively into a screen play and judging by most recent gangster films, with a few notable exceptions, that wouldn't be too far from the truth.

In Bruges is a grown up genre film not because it hangs out in galleries and cathedrals like a tapestry woven by Brueghel's mistress from blood, sin, and judgement. Though it does.

In Bruges is a black comedy for grown ups not because it consciously satisfies our skulking childishness, our 'incorrect' urge to lash out at convention , say f*ck the lot 'o ya's, fist someone in the mouth for good measure and then offer a fast talking and wickedly funny apology. And it does all that too.

In Bruges is grown up cinema because despite being sexy, fun and stylish, it is emotionally literate. Is that allowed?

The complexity of Martin McDonagh's screen play is manifold, developing and delineating character through dialogue as much as action. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrel inhabit their characters with equal and at times forceful skill, displaying flawless comic timing and sensitivity. Together they breathe 'real life' into the hyperbolic corpse of a bloated genre that never quite realised it died some time ago. McDonagh's characters realise too late they've been c*nts, one way or another, and far too late, begin to grow. Characters with history, in emotional distress, barely conscious or all too aware. They do what we might in their shoes. And as they trace the outline of their own destruction in lines of cocaine or spilled beer, their conceit, self loathing, compassion or stubbornness lays them all bare. There is a cost for all of them, characters on a human scale, acting out their tragedy in recognisable terms. In Bruges is as morally instructive as it is dramatically satisfying, almost becoming a medieval mystery play in the setting of the title.

Finally In Bruges is a dangerously perfect fusion of plot, meaning and story. Ripples of understanding run back and forth across the surface of the experience, hinting at the themes which swim powerfully beneath. A film this genuinely startling doesn't happen very often.
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