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So you have just botched a job and need to get out of town, where do you go? Bruges of course! That is the premise to “In Bruges”, an odd yet charming film about two hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) sent to Bruges with orders to lay low. Once there, both men quickly come to different views on whether Bruges is heaven or hell. Yet as the orders come straight from the boss (Ralph Fiennes) himself, they must endure all that the Bruges has to offer. It is at this point when the film detours from most conventional gangster films. The film is as much a love letter to Bruges and its population, as it a film about redemption and honour.
This contrast is evident in the overall tone and pacing of the film. The first half of the film is more about the sights and people within Bruges. You really get the since that you are on vacation with Farrell and Gleeson. The conversations the guys have with each other, and the locals, feels authentic. The second half of the film is devoted to the ramifications of the job they botched in London. The witty fast-paced banter really shines brightest in the second half. Ralph Fiennes gets some truly great lines here.
Speaking of Fiennes, his performance reminded me a lot of Ben Kingsley’s character in “Sexy Beast”. While not as strong as Kingsley, Fiennes still does a decent job with what he was given. Brendan Gleeson is absolutely wonderful in his role. He perfectly conveyed both the joy of seeing Bruges, and the sorrow of the tough choices that he will ultimately have to make. Oddly enough, Farrell’s performance was the one that took a while for me to warm up to. At first, I felt Farrell didn’t seem right for the type of character he was playing. Yet as the film went on I must say he won me over.
The only real issue I had with them film was the fact that it tried too hard at times to be as “anti-politically correct” as possible. Many of off-colour remarks seemed to be thrown in for shock value more than anything. Not to mention a big discussion about a potential race war that does nothing to advance the plot. Writer/director Martin McDonagh could have tightened up the script a bit more. Overall “In Bruges” may not be everyone’s ideal destination, but for me it was a pleasant trip.
(Warning: Trailer Contains Strong Language)
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