1000 Great Films
(c) 2009, William L. Sinclair

In Bruges

Martin McDonagh, 2008 (9*)
This is a thoroughly enjoyable and creative black crime 'dramedy' (more drama than humor), about two affable hit men hiding out in Bruges, Belgium, the best preserved medieval city in Europe. Rookie director Martin McDonagh got the idea for this film while visiting the city once, and the two characters represent his own split feelings about the town: beautiful and historic on one hand, then boring when that becomes the everyday routine. In two terrific performances, Brendan Gleeson is the older, wiser hit man who enjoys touring the historic town, while Colin Farrell, new to the profession, is bored, anxious, and needs more excitement, more booze, more anything.

The pair quickly discover a film being shot in the streets and befriend both a dwarf actor, who's a funny character, and a crew member, the sensual Clemence Poesy, who offers Farrell just the escape he needs. The film begins slowly but escalates into violence, especially after boss Ralph Fiennes shows up, it's a dark comedy until then. In Bruges is really a film noir with some humor, and lots of swearing. The supporting cast from the hotel owner (Thekla Reuten) to a rude Canadian (Zeljko Ivanek, Emmy-winner for Damages) are all excellent.

The film has some artistic and even surreal moments, magically filmed. When you consider all the elements involved: a town as co-star, a dwarf in a surrealist film, drug-dealing con-artists, a hit on a priest, a kid-loving mobster - this turns out to be quite a unique script from McDonagh. Farrell won the Golden Globe for actor in a comedy (I think his most versatile performance to date, tho' Home at the End of the World was probably more difficult), and Gleeson (brilliant!) was nominated, as their onscreen chemistry was hilarious. Gleeson's performance is actually the more polished and professional, he's done this often. McDonagh's Oscar-nominated screenplay won several international awards, including the BAFTA®, for which the movie was nominated for Best British film.

Be sure to watch all the bonus shorts on the dvd, especially one with all the F-word outtakes from the whole movie, there's certainly over a hundred!

"In Bruges" was one of my favorite films of 2008 -- a dark, clever comedy with a surprisingly sweet center. I consider it 2008's answer to "The Matador," another great, quirky movie about lovable hitmen.

The Matador was surprisingly good, esp Pierce Brosnan, but hardly as seductive as In Bruges - both worth watching however.. glad you liked In Bruges..

My fave 5 of 2008: Wall-E, The Visitor, Slumdog, In Bruges, Milk

thanks for comments! - JOSE

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