In Bruges (18)



Comedy (2007)
107mins UK/Bel

Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clemence Poesy
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer(s): Martin McDonagh
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

In the aftermath of a bungled hit, gunmen for hire Ray and Ken head for the continent to await instructions from their fiery tempered crime boss, Harry. The double-act sight sees during the day then spends evenings in the local pub, drowning sorrows and flirting with some of the locals. While Ray tries his luck with beautiful drug dealer Chloe, Ken finally makes contact with Harry and is given their next assignment: a daring dangerous mission that will spatter the streets with blood.

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LondonNet Film Review
In Bruges

Blessed with the same moribund wit and explosive violence as his Olivier Award-winning stage plays, Martin McDonagh's feature film directorial debut is a gloriously offbeat jaunt through modern day Belgium in the company of two hopelessly mismatched hit men...

Brendan Gleeson (left) and Colin Farrell (right) star in Martin McDonagh's IN BRUGES, a Focus Features release. Photo: Jaap Buitendijk.  2007 Focus Features LLC. All Rights Reserved.The majestic belfry towers and rosary stalls of Bruges provide the unlikely backdrop for a blackly humorous tale of betrayal and redemption. McDonagh's ear for dialogue is acute as ever and he gifts Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson some wonderfully foul-mouthed exchanges in which their hapless assassins debate the pleasures of sightseeing versus continental beer, with unexpectedly moving consequences.

The Belgian tourist board will be delighted with glimpses of many of the city's most popular attractions, including the 15th-century Jerusalem Church, the Basilica of the Holy Blood and the Groeninge Museum with its rich collection of Flemish expressionist art. However, the beautiful market square and surrounding side streets are spattered with enough blood to suggest the characters won't be welcomed back any time soon.

 2007 Focus Features. All Rights Reserved.In the aftermath of a bungled hit that results in the senseless death of a little boy in church, gunmen for hire Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) head for the continent to await instructions from their fiery tempered crime boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes). Ken is delighted by the unexpected detour - "Bruges is the best-preserved medieval city in Belgium!" he gushes, eagerly compiling a full itinerary of historical hotspots. However, Ray is unmoved by the cobbled streets and breathtaking gothic architecture. Like a petulant teenager, he wastes no time in letting Ken know that he would rather wile away the hours drowning his sorrows and flirting with some of the locals.

That night, Ray plies his Oirish charm on beautiful drug dealer Chloe (Clemence Poesy) and Ken finally makes contact with Harry and is given his next assignment, one which he must keep secret from his partner in crime. Racked with guilt, Ken seeks a way to wriggle out of his predicament while Ray befriends a dwarf American actor called Jimmy (Jordan Prentice), who is shooting a film in the city, and will play a pivotal role in the hit men's fate.

 2007 Focus Features. All Rights Reserved.In Bruges relies on the quickfire verbal jousting between Gleeson and Farrell and both actors are in fine form, contrasting Ken's paternal calm with Ray's manic and profanely funny antics, which involve punching an American woman in a crowded restaurant. Rapport between the leads is interrupted by a slightly undernourished romantic subplot, and the arrival of Fiennes's Mr Big, complete with a Cockney accent that sounds like a poor imitation of Ben Kingsley's hard man in Sexy Beast. Tensions between the crime boss and his underlings escalate into a full-blown running battle. "Why don't you put your guns down and go home?" demands a hotelier meekly. "Don't be stupid," sneers Harry, "this is the shoot-out." That told her.

- Sam Cannon


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