In Bruges (2008) (R)
Martin McDonagh's first feature film is arguably the best debut film ever and there have been some powerhouses of debut films...look at Terrence Malick's "Badlands" and Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs": Costner's "Dances with Wolves" or Christopher Nolan's "Following". But out of all of these, yes, (don't stone me), I would put "In Bruges" at the top of the list right next to Steve McQueen's
The movie begins when two hired gunmen have to flee to Bruges, Belgium to wait things out. Their boss, Harry Waters, demands allegiance and commands that they stay by the telephone constantly to receive his call for further instructions.
Ken and Ray are the two hit men, played by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell respectively and both of them just nail their roles.
Bruges is a fairytale city for Harry because he grew up there and Ken is enjoying taking in the scenery—going to old churches and seeing the sights that tourists travel the world to see. Ray, on the other hand, would just like to meet a girl, get offensively drunk, and have a good time...but let's face it, they're stuck in Bruges which is precisely in the middle of nowhere.
So Ray and Ken wander the streets and Ray feigns interest while Ken soaks everything up...these two are polar opposites yet the have such amazing chemistry together. They have great depressing dialogue that ripples with texture...it appears to be a love child of McDonagh.
Ray is sensationally neurotic, putting Woody Allen to shame. He's depressed and blue; but he's also got a child's mind and a razor wit. Ken, contradictory, is the source of knowledge of the two. He's the adult of the pair and has his nose buried in a book most of the time.
The nicest way you can describe these two is "bumbling". But make no mistake, they can be killers two. It's this dynamic that balances humanity with murder that makes "In Bruges" such a twisted and intriguing picture.
The script is punctuated with as many uses of the "f-bomb" that I think is possible and yet beneath all the blood and cursing and innuendos there's something undeniably fascinating about "In Bruges". Perhaps it's Colin Farrell's stunning work as the trouble murderer; or maybe it's Brendan Gleeson who steals the camera away in every scene he's in. Another possibility is Ralph Fiennes as the hard man to please—Harry. It also could be the simple piano music that enforces the bleakness and artistry of the picture.
"In Bruges" has its own brand of humor...McDonagh's next work "Seven Psychopaths" is exponentially funnier; but "In Bruges" is by far the better picture. It has a very simple premise and lightning execution.
"In Bruges" is an artist's movie for artists...it's simply wonderful.
It should have been nominated for all sorts of Academy Awards but only managed to eke out one for screenwriting which was wall deserved but McDonagh lost...I guess you can't win them all.
"In Bruges" may not be for everyone but it is a glorious work of art.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones