In Bruges is the type of film that reminds viewers of the perks of living in the new millennium. Film has evolved to include scenes that don’t just happen for the mere sake of advancing the narrative forward, the new age now consists of arbitrary scenes that have a strategic place in a film for the sake of advancing audience relationships to a character, like a scene featuring two assassins doing cocaine in a hotel room with two hookers and a dwarf discussing a futuristic hypothetical race war.
The scene does nothing to move the plot forward nor is it an enlightening moment of foreshadowing, although In Bruges is really good at that, but instead the scene happens for the sake of just happening, because what else are two men stuck in Bruges supposed to do for fun?
Johnny Depp, John Cusack, and Hunter S. Thompson didn’t need the hookers, they had blowup dolls.
And that’s In Bruges in a nutshell; a thrilling and quirky black comedy following hitmen Ken and Ray, who were ordered by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) to keep a low profile and await further instructions in Bruges after a botched job. A classic “Odd Couple” pairing, the older, more pensive Ken (Brendan Gleeson) finds beauty and peace in Bruges’ quaintness, while the bluntly hotheaded Ray (Colin Farrell) sees the city as nothing more than a “shit hole.” Despite their differences, the two must hold out together before they can discover their purpose of being in Bruges.
And that purpose was to let the world know that other Irish actors besides Colin Farrell exist.
Writer/director Martin McDonagh cleverly makes In Bruges appealing due to his ability to tell a serious and genuinely thrilling story about a group of assassins seeking redemption for their actions, while balancing the drama with dry screwball humor. Through McDonagh’s impressive character development, Ken and Ray are revealed to be anything but heartless assassins. They’re men who see what they do as simply work until their most recent job reminds them of the severity of taking a life. While staying in Bruges both men began to reevaluate their jobs, their own personal beliefs, and how their actions will affect their afterlives. Even their ruthless boss Harry is shown to be more than a one note villain hell bent on revenge; he is given morals, principles, a background and a captivating personality.
That man is poisoooon.
McDonagh masterfully allows everyone that Ken and Ray meet while in Bruges to be a pivotal and major part in the future and lives of the men. The irony and foreshadowing that he implements throughout the film is frankly some of the best usage of the literary devices in film today. However, all the credit isn’t due solely to McDonagh, each major actor is phenomenal in their roles, bringing realism and a unique humor to each one. Farrell captures the remorse and pain that surfaces in Ray, reminding viewers that sometimes one’s guilt is the greatest punishment. Fiennes is beyond incredible as the foul-mouthed, hot-tempered Harry, a role he gives as much humor to as he does venom and if Glesson’s performance as the benevolent and gracious Ken doesn’t at least tug at your heartstring, you obviously don’t have one. Seriously, you should really see a doctor if it doesn’t.
McDonagh’s quest for a near perfect film could have been achieved, however, had he decided to scrap the half-baked romance between Ray and the drug dealing production assistant and Bruges native, Chloe. While Chloe becomes an important figure in the film and is given enough background to explain why she would fall for a Ray, (a man who insults her hometown, makes crude jokes and gets into a fight on their first date) their romance at times seem out of place, trite, and unnecessary to the overall story and theme.
In Bruges is a rollercoaster ride and I don’t mean that facetiously for the sake of blowing hot air into a subpar film. In Bruges is truly an enjoyable cinematic experience, one that I’m excited to experience again, and it’s a genuinely shocking film that left me gasping numerous times throughout at the turn of events, revelations, and connections between characters that were made. Apart from Farrell being a subpar comedic actor, and I stress the word comedic here, and the unnecessary love angle of the film, In Bruges is a perfect example of what a “good” film does, present viewers with a realistic portrayal of a constructed world.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time the word “midget” is used.
Take a drink: for every racist comment made.
Take a shot: every time you hear a shot. (Maybe just a little shot- pace yourself)
Take a shot: every time you look at Harry and think “Voldemort!”