Where is Bruges? A question many people might wonder as they prepare to watch the new film, In Bruges. You quickly learn from the film’s opening monologue, which features Colin Farrell’s somber voice playing over various shots of the town that Bruges is in Belgium.
The monologue explains that a job has gone bad and now two hit men have been sent to hide in the quaint town of Bruges. The two temporarily exiled men are the amusing and pouting Ray (Colin Farrell) and the fatherly Ken (Brendan Gleeson). In Bruges doesn't expose the horribly depressing details of the botched job or examine the resulting consquences until later in the film, giving the audience plenty of time to have fun with the two main characters as they try to deal with their present situation in different ways.
Ray has the attitude of a disinterested teenager towards Bruges. He is young and is not concerned with the old-fashioned town. However, Ken approaches Bruges and Ray much like a well meaning but doomed father. The harder Ken tries to convince Ray that Bruges and its history is interesting the less Ray cares, creating many great exchanges between the two over the town. There is a particularly funny scene where Ken is explaining the history of a church and how it is believed to posses actual drops of Jesus Christ’s blood. As Ken continues to explain why Ray should care, Ray just continues to point out plainly that he doesn’t.
The film’s humor is in fact stronger than most might expect. The last time I remember an audience laughing so hard was during the hit comedy Knocked Up. Many of the film’s comedic moments come from the clueless Ray. Ray’s earnestness continually gets him into troublesome situations while he is suppose to be keeping a low profile. Ray has two very memorable interactions with fellow tourists. One exchange involves an overweight American trying to punch Ray because of a candid comment he made and the other one ends in assault at an upscale restaurant. In Bruges also possesses many witty and very quotable lines, with a good amount, but not all, of them containing the F word. The dialogue is sharp, which is not surprising when you learn that the film’s Writer and Director Martin McDonagh, is a very successful and award winning playwright.
The very entertaining and fresh characters of In Bruges are made even greater by the quality of the actors playing them. Colin Farrell has finally found a role perfectly suited for him in the well meaning but reckless Ray. Brendan Gleeson brings a great amount of warmth to the role of Ken, Ray’s counterpart and babysitter. Farrell and Gleeson’s talent helps the audience care about two men who are paid to kill for a living.
In Bruges’ tone shifts dramatically when the film begins to focus on why exactly the two men are hiding. As the details of the job are revealed, Ray’s inner torment surfaces on the screen. It turns out that Ray accidentially shot and killed a young boy. Despite being a paid killer, Ray's genuine sorrow and torment will derive sympathy, not contempt from the audience. Of Course, Ken attempts to convince Ray to use this experience as a lesson, as Ken puts it: "save the next little boy." This examination causes In Bruges second half, while mostly entertaining, to become convoluted and melodramatic at times. However, In Bruges' final moments do successfully achieve the film's purpose by displaying the necessity of forgiveness and acceptance in a big and bloody way.
In Bruges is director Martin McDonagh’s feature length film debut. Mr. McDonagh has already achieved a large amount of success as a playwright, and his ability to create such clever and memorable dialoge along with enganging film characters makes one hope that he will continue to spend time in the filmmaking realm.