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Movie Review | In Bruges

Ray (Colin Farrell) struggles to enjoy the sights with Ken (Brendan Gleeson) in In Bruges

Movie Summary: 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. (IMDb)

With this film, Seven Psychopaths, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh has made three movies that I've enjoyed to various extents, but In Bruges was the first and, so far, still the best.

It's smaller in scope, but more focussed than Seven Psychopaths, while doing much better character work than Three Billboards, which has some serious issues. In Bruges certainly isn't faultless itself, but what works here does enough to paper over the cracks, unlike the other two McDonagh movies.

It's helped by yet another fantastic performance from Brendan Gleeson as Ken, and probably the best performance of Colin Farrell's career. Whether dealing with the more emotional material, or the comedic scenes, the pair are perfect and have incredible chemistry together.

They are ably assisted by Ralph Fiennes, as the pair's boss, Harry. He slaloms from dangerous to funny and back again as the unstable crime lord who sent the Ken and Ray to Bruges, yet his character never feels inauthentic. Instead, not quite knowing how to take him only serves to make him seem more dangerous than he appears, which is perfect for the character.

That's true of the film in general, veering from Ray's suicidal feelings, to running away from overweight Americans after insulting them, Ray's burgeoning relationship with Chloe, and the action-packed climax with it all flowing seamlessly and never feeling like one scene doesn't fit.

Ray (Colin Farrell) threatens to use karate on a dwarf while Ken (Brendan Gleeson) watches in In Bruges

As you might be able to tell from that description, the film does cover a lot of ground and yet it never feels too rushed. Hell, the start especially has some lengthy shots of the incredible medieval scenery in Bruges to establish the setting, and there's a very funny scene involving prostitutes and drugs that eventually devolves into a discussion about a potential race war and what side people with dwarfism would be on.

While that scene is funny, and it still carries a serious undercurrent with Ken, it does feel a little surreal and mostly insubstantial. The surrealism returns right to the very end and does slightly undermine the deadly serious action the audience has just witnessed.

It's not a major problem, but it does mean that the very final feeling you might have when In Bruges has finished is one of dissatisfaction. In fact, once the movie's over, you'll more than likely forget most of the ending and remember the fantastic interactions between the characters earlier in the film.

In Bruges is a great film, although it doesn't really hold back with some of the characters' behaviour, nor with some of the sudden changes in tone, which might put off some people. Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes are all superb though, and the material they get to work with is just as good.



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