In Bruges

In Bruges (pronounced "Brooj")
Made in: Great Britain, Belgium (location)
Language: English
Director: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clémence Poésy, Jérémie Renier, Jordan Prentice, Eric Godon
Year: 2008

Synopsis: Two Irish hitmen, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson), are sent away from London after a job goes wrong. Their profane and utterly crazy boss, Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) orders them to lay low in the town of Bruges, which is the best preserved medieval city in Belgium. Ray and Ken are to keep a low profile until Harry phones them with new instructions.

While Ken takes an immediate liking to the city, Ray, guilt-ridden from the disastrous results of his last hit-job, instantly hates it and becomes bored. After offending just about everyone he meets, Ray stumbles upon the film crew of an art movie where he falls in love with Chloe (Clémence Poésy). Chloe sells cocaine, speed, and ecstasy to the actors on set, but is an otherwise nice girl.

Things get more bizarre when Ray meets Jimmy (Jordan Prentice), a drug-addicted dwarf who has a role in the film. And he also gets into trouble with Eirik (Jérémie Renier), Chloe's jealous ex-boyfriend. While Ray's out with Chloe one night, Ken gets a call from Harry and receives a new assignment that results in deadly consequences.

The Good: The first ten minutes of In Bruges is hilarious. And when the film takes a more dramatic turn, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson do a stellar job of responding to each emotional change. Flowing into each new situation seamlessly, they laugh, cry, and philosophize without a hint of melodrama or awkwardness.

The bizarre situations are bold, dark, and definitely help the film score points for originality. There seems to be a genuine effort on director Martin McDonagh's part to be creative, as opposed to showing the viewer a bunch of weird stuff in an attempt to appear artistic.

Ralph Fiennes plays his part with convincing menace as well as humor, and the backdrop of the quaint Belgian city is beautifully shot. It almost makes you want to visit the place, with all its canals and gothic architecture.

The Bad: In Bruges doesn't end on the same note that it began on. It starts off as a comedy, and twists and turns its way into other genres such as serious drama, action, and gritty gangster story. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson would have done a great job in any of those categories, but the film itself should have focused mainly on one of them.

By the time the film gets violent and we're confronted with a few bloody scenes, it's unclear as to whether or not we should still be laughing or if we're meant to be on the edge of our seats.

Who would like this movie: Although it has the pacing and action of most mainstream movies, In Bruges will definitely appeal to you if you like foreign films. It's smart, imaginative, and the dialogue is great. It has some really funny moments, and Colin Farrell is the obvious stand-out here.

But as I said before, In Bruges goes in too many directions in terms of emotional turning points. However, it arguably comes together in the end before it can fall apart completely.

(2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars).

Review written by: Joe Yang

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