2008 - United Kingdom - 107 minutes
Director and Writer - Martin McDonagh
Internet Movie Database User Rating - 8.1/10 - Link to IMDb
My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars

Bruges is a city in Belgium that has most of its medieval architecture intact, and it serves as a character in this film much as New York City, London, of Los Angeles often serve as characters in many films. In Bruges is a dark and very bloody comedy in which the city of Bruges adds its own somewhat bizarre background. Bruges is not of our everyday world just as the events in the film are surely not daily experiences.

Ray is a novice hit man who on his very first job, accidentally kills a young boy. Ray is sent to Bruges with an older hit man, Ken by their boss, Harry. The reason given to Ray by Harry is so he can basically get his head together after his horrifying mistake. The real reason is that Ray has been sent to Bruges to be murdered by Ken. At the beginning, Ken only suspects this assignment until he is contacted by Harry.

The older, wiser, more sophisticated Ken is overwhelmed by the history, art, and beauty of Bruges whereas the young and crude Ray hates being stuck in this little city so far removed from modern times. As their visit continues, Ken endeavors to interest Ray in the sights and knowledge available, but Ray, who is wracked with guild over murdering a young boy, only wants to drown his remorse with drink, drugs and the companionship of a newfound local girl.

Eventually, Ken receives the phone call he has been dreading in the back of his mind. Harry orders that Ray be murdered because, "You can't kill a kid and live."

All of this leads to an extremely bloody ending, but along the way, the audience is treated to a string of bizarre characters and even more bizarre events that are filled with delightful dark, dark element of comedy.

Along with the tight darkly humorous script, the superior acting - especially the acting of the three male leads - is what gives In Bruges its five stars.

Brendan Gleeson plays Ken and his beautifully understated depiction of a man worn down by his own sins who just wants to survive is a sight to see. It would seem impossible to feel any sympathy for a man who murders for his profession, but Gleeson gives us such a man.

Colin Farrell at thirty-two is ten years too young for the part of Ray, but his considerable acting talent enables you to forgive those extra years. He makes you believe he is Ray, a young man from the wrong side of the tracks who has accidentally committed an unpardonable sin and is suffering in his soul.

Ralph Fiennes may be a little over the top as Harry, the boss, but he certainly pulls it off. Keep in mind that these are unreal people in an unreal environment, so a little overacting can certainly be forgiven.

These three stars of the film are supported by a group of premier actors in series of extremely unusual roles.

As for the DVD, the extra features are a real treat. Not only is there a very good "making of" video, there is a beautiful tour of Bruges. The delight of the extras, however, is a short video based upon the considerable foul language in the film which would make a sailor blush. This f**king little video is fun, fun.

Yes, In Bruges is dark and bloody. If you shy away from such fare, avoid this film, but if you can plant your tongue firmly in your cheek and sit back to enjoy a flight of sinister fancy, give this film a viewing.

Neil Turner
July 1, 2008

In Bruges