In Bruges

Time for something a little more off-beat now with a look at In Bruges, an easily missable 2008 film that definitely needs more press.

In Bruges (2008)


I didn’t know what to expect going into In Bruges. From the poster I figured it might be a kind of Hot Fuzz retread- doing the “big action, small town” type juxtaposition with Colin Farrell attached just to sell tickets. I was wrong and I’m very glad I was. It’s much better than that.

“Two manky hookers and a racist dwarf. I think I’m heading home.”

After a job gone awry, foul mouthed Irish hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are told to lie low in medieval Belgian town Bruges and await further instructions from their furious boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes). The story was great, providing a really strong character driven narrative that kept me hooked. Both Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson were fantastic, giving us the best hitman duo since Jules and Vincent in Pulp Fiction. Honestly. The relationship between the two was brilliant, going from Odd Couple one minute to believable friends the next. Ralph Fiennes was hilarious as Harry, proving he has more strings to his bow than straight-up character actor. The dialogue is also fantastic, with genuinely funny exchanges and endlessly quotable one-liners.

So In Bruges is funny. Let me qualify that and say that In Bruges is darkly funny. Some of the humour present is about as dark as you can get and it’s safe to say it won’t be to everyone’s taste. It has a really strange charm to it all that bypasses all the jokes about racist midgets, drug abuse and more violence and swearing than you can shake a fucking baseball bat at. For most of it, Ken is the eye-rolling straight man to Ray’s sulky teenager, but some of the more affecting stuff is allowed to come through later which is a masterclass in character development.

There are some great scenes too, including a memorable lads’ night out scene with “dwarf” (we are told that the vertically challenged prefer the d-word over the m-word) some Class A drugs and some prostitutes. There’s also a fantastic bit where Ray does his bit for international relations between our country and the rootin’ tootin’ U.S. of A.

“(On the subject of Belgian jokes) Is Belgium with all those child abuse murders lately? I do know a Belgium joke. What’s Belgium famous for? Chocolates and child abuse, and they only invented the chocolates to get to the kids.”

What surprised me most with In Bruges was how moving some of it was. I was caught up in it all and actually got a bit choked up by proceedings- something which really caught me unaware. I would definitely recommend a viewing. Not only will you be getting a great, darkly comic film, you may even learn something about the historic town of Bruges too.

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