Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In Bruges Review

Martin McDonagh hits the mark with his first feature.

In Bruges is fun. It mixes humour and heartfelt grit but works because it doesn't take itself too seriously, managing to stay light in what would certainly be dark situations in most other films.

In Bruges focuses on two Irish hit-men, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who have been ordered to hide in Bruges, Belgium while they stay low after a hit gone wrong. Colin Farrell plays Ray, a tormented man who's hurting due to initially unknown complications from an earlier job. His partner is Brendan Gleeson's character; Ken. Ken is a keener and an avid sightseer, trying to get as much enjoyment as possible from being holed up in the foreign city. Ken is insistent on closely following the orders of Harry, the hit-men's hidden boss, as close as possible and much to the dismay of Ray. The two characters slowly start feeling the effects of living in Bruges two separate ways; Ken learns to love the town while Ray really has a hard time setting in.

The film crosses the line between light humour and dark drama quite often during its 107 minute runtime. One minute you'll be laughing at Ray's infatuation with the filming of midgets, the next you'll be in shock as you learn more about the hit-men's previous job. McDonagh does a great job shocking and surprising his viewer and it entertains throughout the film. This film could have easily been a throw-away comedy or over-stylized shooter but a happy medium is found between the two. It's fun and a thrill to watch but also very touching and dramatic, keeping you invested in the characters throughout.

And what great characters they are. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson turn out amazing performances in the film. I was initially a bit weary of Farrell's almost exaggerated performance at first but settled in after the opening ten and enjoyed it. Farrell's been great before, and will no doubt be great again, but he's given a lot of room to shine in this film which is one of his best showings to date. Gleeson is also terrific. He's grounded and stoic but also quite comedic in the role. It would be easy to label Ken as the damper on the first half of the film but Gleeson's performance keeps the character fun yet responsible. Ralph Fiennes shows up half way through the film with a great performance. He's rough and unforgiving but his character manages to show his humanity. The scenes with Fiennes and Gleeson towards the end of the film are superb as the two veteran actors display tremendous chemistry with one-another. The whole film is based around chemistry when you think about it. Gleeson and Farrell are great together and so are Farrell and Clémence Poésy, Farrell's love interest in the flick.

The finality of the film is open ended and as much as some despise this ending choice I thought it worked rather well. It's not totally ambiguous, instead giving you a yes or no choice to choose your outcome. McDonagh does a great job planting small seeds throughout the film and showing them grow as time passes, a trick that often appears as cheap in many films but works quite well in this one.

I really enjoyed In Bruges. It's a great piece of entertainment that doesn't stray away from dipping into the dark side. I'll be picking this one up on DVD for sure, if you haven't seen it go check it out when it opens wide this Friday.

One Sentence Review: Hilarious yet grounded, In Bruges is a very fun watch.

Have you seen In Bruges? Leave a comment and tell me what you thought.


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Keith said...

In Bruges was good, even though I saw it with two fat jerks. I agree that Colin Farell is hard to take at first but you settle into his character fairly quickly. Good fun.

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