In Bruges

“In Bruges” Review


Colin Farrell………………….Ray
Brendan Gleeson……………Ken
Ralph Fiennes……………….Harry


Director………………………Martin McDonagh
Producers……………………Jeff Abberley, Julia Blackman, Tessa Ross
Writers………………………..Martin McDonagh

You don’t often find movies that can make you cry and laugh at the same time. And yet, “In Bruges” defies logic, and does this with ease. The movie is about two hitmen, Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson), who have to go into hiding in Bruges, Belgium. Right from the onset, we know that Ray hates Bruges. He doesn’t even need to get off the train before telling us that he hates Bruges. Ken is far more open-minded, and comes to enjoy what the city has to offer.

Ken and Ray have been sent by their boss, Harry, to Bruges to lay low for a while, after a job went bad. The job was to kill a priest in Dublin, but Ray accidentally, while killing the priest, managed to land a stray bullet into the skull of a young boy. What follows is a story of two men who are changed by this event and circumstances they are in.

At first, Ray doesn’t think he should even be in Bruges, and wants to go right back to Dublin. But as the movie goes on, we see that he becomes more and more consumed by his guilt, and soon enough, we are transported into Ray’s head, and can feel every ounce of pain that he does. But Martin McDonagh, the director, tries hard to keep this movie from getting depressing, and he succeeds in this task. The humour is witty,
sarcastic, and morbidly dark. And of course, absolutely hilarious.

McDonagh also does a great job of showing us Bruges, which is, in fact, an absolutely breathtaking city. Its beautiful monuments and Venice-like canals are magnificent in the film, although Ray would have to disagree. While I watched the movie and saw Bruges’s sights, I suddenly found myself wanting to go to Bruges. Really badly. The
filming location was actually in a very small part of Bruges, and despite certain place being revisited (i.e. the tower), the city never gets old. The fact is, the cinematography in “In Bruges” is perfect, and lends itself to the film very well, enhancing it.

Farrell has, in the past, been criticised for his choice of roles, but certainly not this time. He pulls off an overconfident, but also vulnerable hitman whose conscience is at a loss. Throughout the movie, we see Ray wrestle with his inner demons, and it is a
bloody battle. The guilt of having inadvertently killed that boy consumes him, and takes over his life, and he can think of nothing else. He manages to deliver those comic lines, and we see him smile, but in his eyes we see a man possessed, a man haunted by a sole moment. In his eyes, we see excruciating pain; I have to give credit to Farrell for putting all of these elements together in this emotionally moving role.

Nothing should be taken away from Gleeson either, who plays his part pitch-perfectly. At first, we can see that Ken is not much affected by Ray’s emotions, but as the film goes on, we see that he too, is brought into Ray’s whirlwind of emotions. Living in the same hotel room as Ray starts take its toll on Ken, until Harry –  the boss – calls. I won’t give anything away, but what Harry tells Ken is nothing short of life-changing, and creates a great deal of inner turmoil in him.

For most of the movie, Harry is only heard through the phone, but about two thirds way through, he arrives in Bruges in the form of Ralph Fiennes. And boy, can that man act. He portrays a man that is, in a way, pure evil personified, but also has his rules and principles. In fact, during a conversation between him and Ken, we even see a little bit of human in Harry, as the two share a small laugh, forgetting their situation for that moment.

Besides the acting and character development, the writing too is splendid. The writers created a brilliant combination of dark humour and thought-provoking dialogue, which will leave the best of us in a conflict of emotion. On more than one occasion, we see Ray pondering over things like the afterlife and guilt. Each time this has
happened, I found myself thinking about my own life, and what it would be like to be in Ray’s position. My mind started trying to draw comparisons between Ray’s life and my own, and I began to go into deep thought about the philosophy of it all. Then, all of a sudden, I would be interrupted by a fantastically witty line from Farrell or Gleeson or Fiennes, and I would snap myself out of the daze.

Such is the effect that this film has. It really makes the audience think. Not about what’s going on in the movie (that is relatively straightforward), but about their own lives, and about major themes like guilt, or Heaven and Hell. This film speaks volumes about the human condition, and how people really react towards traumatic events. It tells us of the moral complexities in the human brain, and how any person can mentally disintegrate if they are pushed hard enough. And amidst all of this is some of the darkest humour you will hear, and it all comes together to create a fine spectacle. “In Bruges” is an intelligent and thought-provoking comedy/drama, and is a must-see.