Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes
Director: Martin McDonagh
Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) are two very different people. They both kill people for a living – working for Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) – but have little else in common. Ken is older, has been a killer for a long time but enjoys tranquillity and sight-seeing. Ray is new to the game, is easily bored and has a habit of getting himself in to surreal scrapes.
When a hit in a London church goes wrong they flee to Bruges in Belgium for a fortnight and are told to await a call from Harry. While Ken enjoys the serenity of the city, Ray gets involved in ludicrous disagreements with American tourists and angsty midgets. Things pick up for him when he meets Chloe (Clémence Poésy) on the set of a Dutch movie shoot. With both men now happy to stay in Bruges, it seems their two weeks will pass satisfactorily. But Harry has news for them and soon the peaceful city will become bullet-ridden and blood-stained.
It takes a little while but when “In Bruges” finds its feet, it’s irrepressible. The awkward opening – dominated by Farrell’s Irish brogue – soon gives way to some darkly comical scenes as Ray and Ken, along with the viewer, become acquainted with the city. Much credit goes to writer-director Martin McDonagh who has created a gangster movie in the ilk of “Layer Cake” and “Sexy Beast” but yet one which feels fresh and original – his Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay (and similar awards from BAFTA, Phoenix and the British Independent Film Awards) underlining this.
Gleeson and Farrell were both deservedly nominated for Golden Globes (with the latter winning). Farrell bounces around the screen early on with what seems to be adult ADHD but before long the script allows him to expand his performance, shedding the quirkiness and introducing haunted and emotional sides. Gleeson is as masterful as ever, one of those actors who always seem effortlessly on the money.
Ralph Fiennes plays the violent but principled gangster who is not impressed with the behaviour of his hitmen. I haven’t seen much of Fiennes since his “Schindler’s List”, “Quiz Show” and “Strange Days” run about 15 years ago (less said about “Red Dragon” the better) and he is almost unrecognisable with his thick cockney accent and cropped hairstyle. His supporting role is played to perfection, balancing his violent ethics alongside some delicious dark humour.
While you can probably call a few of the major plot turns they don’t by any means damage what is an incredible 100 minutes or so. “In Bruges” is one of those special movies that doesn’t come along too often and simply can’t be missed.