7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Hilarious, Dark, Brilliant,
This review is from: In Bruges [DVD]  (DVD)
This 2008 film, written and directed by London-born, Irish heritage, film and theatre writer/director Martin McDonagh is a simply brilliantly engaging watch, and (for me) one of the finest (dark) comedies to emanate from the UK/Ireland in many years (as well as being a remarkable feature debut for McDonagh). Key to its success is undoubtedly McDonagh's razor-sharp and hilarious script, but praise should also, of course, be directed at the film's central pairing of two 'failing' hit men holed up in Bruges after a botched operation, Brendon Gleeson's more reflective, and culturally-enlightened 'elder statesman', Ken, and Colin Farrell's impetuous, earthy, mixed-up, 'street smart geezer' (if there is such a thing as an Irish geezer), Ray. For me, whilst Gleeson is (by now) expected to deliver impressive acting turns, either comic or straight (simply look at his work in the likes of Michael Collins, The Butcher Boy, The General, Breakfast On Pluto, The Guard, etc), Farrell, on the other hand, is something of revelation here, depicting a good deal of pathos as well as laddish qualities, in easily the best film turn I have seen from him.
Of course, the set-up for the film is pretty much entirely comic as the pair arrive in the historic, cultural centre of the city, Ray berating Ken for having been banished to such a 'dull' place - even during a sightseeing trip around the city's idyllic canals, quipping, 'Do you think this is good - going around in a boat looking at stuff?'. It is not until Ray reveals his 'guilty secret' from their botched hit, that the film adopts a more reflective mood, as the pair muse over their way of life, and feelings of guilt, humanity and the need for redemption emerge. Life gets more complicated (and darker) still when Ken is informed (by phone from the UK) by gangland 'Mr Big', Ralph Fiennes' acerbic and brutal Harry Waters, that Ray's misdemeanour must incur the ultimate price. However, although In Bruges has a central dark core (plus one or two rather fanciful plot developments), it is most memorable for a whole series of hilarious sequences including that where Ray chats up Clémence Poésy's drug dealer ('working' as a film-making assistant), ChloŽ, with some brilliant 'midget/dwarf banter', the restaurant scene (which, although rather gratuitous, is still brilliantly done, and features the killer line, 'You can't sell horse tranquiliser to a midget!') and Ken and Harry's final confrontation ('Don't come over all Gandhi!').
In addition to Gleeson and Farrell's excellent performances, Fiennes is great as the menacing gangland boss (a role which bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Ben Kingsley's Don Logan in Jonathan Glazer's Sexy Beast - a film with which In Bruges has a number of common elements), there is a cameo role for Dardennes Brothers' regular (and, I guess, 'honorary famous Belgian actor') Jérémie Renier as ChloŽ's 'ex-boyfriend', Erik, plus solid turns by both Poésy and Thekla Reuten as the defiant idealist and hotelier, Marie. A final mention should also be made of the poignant and reflective (largely piano-based) soundtrack composed by Carter Burwell, regular composer for the Coen Brothers (some of whose films In Bruges also resembles).
For me, certainly one of the finest comedies to emerge from these shores in the last couple of decades.