Plot – Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be.
Director – Martin McDonagh
Released – 2008
The first thing I have to say about In Bruges is just how good of an advertisement for the city it is, I for one have been planning to visit Bruges since my first viewing. With the beautiful medieval architecture, gorgeous canals and historical market square all featured prominently in this dark and twisted comedy by Martin McDonagh.
Too often Farrell’s talent has been wasted by the projects he has chosen to star in, but when it comes to In Bruges, he gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as Ray, a hitman that’s haunted by his mistake that lead to the death of a child. forced to flee to Bruges, Farrell manages to show Ray’s pain and regret, as well as a multitude of other emotions. Even exhibiting moments of innocence and wonder at some of the things he comes across during his time in the city, something you couldn’t expect from a hardened hitman, with the film hinting at the fact that Ray is not a bad man, simply someone who’s gone down the wrong path.
Joining Ray in Bruges you have Ken (Gleeson), an older and wiser criminal who despite not having much common with Ray and more than one snappy exchanges taking place between the pair, you can tell they have formed a somewhat father/son bond, protecting Ray from some of his more idiotic tendencies and attempting to set Ray on a path to redemption where he can forgive himself or make amends for his actions.
Rounding off the central performances you have Ralph Fiennes as Harry, the somewhat unbalanced mob boss, who came up with the idea of sending them to Bruges after falling in love with the city as a child. McDonagh’s writing and direction are great at showing the moral compass that all three share and the twisted logic they all form to justify their actions, with humorous dialogue and events popping up throughout that makes you care for all involved despite the characters criminal deeds. With both Harry and Ray’s violent side being halted by the presence of the heavily pregnant Marie, showing a line that even these hardened killers won’t cross.
It’s clear that McDonagh took inspiration from Tarantino when crafting this cleverly intertwined story with its small cast of characters involved in an intricate crime caper, filled with comedic events, violence and emotional moments. But also his use of curveballs is quite reminiscent of some Tarantino’s works, but to me this is to McDonagh’s credit, who along with cinematographer Eigil Bryld produced a beautiful and unique movie, which is all the more impressive given this was McDonagh’s first feature-length film.
In Bruges is a darkly comic film, filled with lashings of Catholic guilt that wonderfully manages to find the perfect balance between the dark subject matter and the light-hearted moment’s, all while showcasing this charming and fairytale city.