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In Bruges (2008)
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Review Date: July 11, 2008
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Producers: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin
Actors:
Colin Farrell as Ray
Brendan Gleeson as Ken
Ralph Fiennes as Harry
Plot:
A couple of hitmen are shipped off to Bruges, Belgium, after a scheduled murder goes astray and a young boy is killed along with their target mark. The two men are told to wait in the quaint little town, until their boss Harry, contacts them with further instructions. What ensues is a lot of views around the lovely town of Bruges, swearing…and then some self-analysis, some crying, guns and even some deaths. An odd little picture.
Critique:
I think that more of my disappointment with this movie comes from the fact that my expectations had been set so high, considering that so many people I know and respect seemed to indicate that this was one of the year’s better movies, and its marketing materials made it seem like a “quirky hitman” film, when in fact, it’s much closer to a poetic character study…which just happens to take place among hitmen. In theory, that all sounds pretty cool actually, but in practice the film just bored me a little too much, with conversations about life/death feeling a little redundant by this point in the evolution of the “hitman movie genre”. In fact, this film felt a little bit like a mix of PULP FICTION, SEXY BEAST and THE MATADOR, alongside some cutesy Frenchie town movie like CHOCOLAT. Some of the hip dialogue was Mamet-esque, but some of it also felt contrived, like “Look at us…we’re hitmen and yet we can gab about regular things like normal people just like anyone else!” I loved the film’s gorgeous locations, of course, which onto themselves play a very big role in the movie’s development, although some of that symbolism stuff was a little overdone as well. At times, it felt like the director was drawing a painting within the picture, which is great, but as long as it doesn’t overtake the film’s storyline, which in this case dragged a little and felt a little ho-hum to me.

The two lead actors, Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, were great in their respective roles though, and props to Farrell for taking on a somewhat secondary role in such a small “indie” film (although in both of their respects, it was difficult to understand every single word coming out of their mouths, because of the strong accents). Ralph Fiennes also shows up at some point, playing the badass leader of the baddies, only he seemed content to simply channel some of Ben Kingsley’s cuntish behavior from the aforementioned SEXY BEAST, as opposed to coming up with a more original take on the “psycho English head of a crime syndicate” himself. The film’s ending, despite being as dark as my socks (black), did click on a more cerebral and poetic level (although you have to believe that it’s part of a dream-ish viewpoint of the film), but didn’t really do much to take away from the film’s low level of entertainment value or true insight, at least to me. Any of the scenes featuring Jordan Prentice, the requisite “midget” in this fairytale-esque movie, were a blast to behold though. Loved his attitude! And even though the film didn’t bowl me over completely, it was unique in many ways, included a handful of memorable sequences (the one in the restaurant with the Canadians comes to mind) and might surely be appreciated by many others. I might even give it another shot one day…when I’m in a more contemplative mood.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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