A refreshingly different approach to the hitman film.
Martin McDonagh will be relatively unknown to most people, he comes from a background of play writing for which he won numerous awards. I first saw his name mentioned as a executive producer when I watched The Guard a brilliantly bleak look at a Irish policeman’s (Brendan Gleeson) investigation into a drug smuggle. The short film Six Shooter shows the same dark humor that this director seems to employ in all his work. I’m trully looking forward to his next project Seven Psychopaths, I mean the cast itself is surely enough to entice you!
With In Bruges it is set in the very place mentioned in the film and for the running gag mentioned throughout, it’s in Belgium. Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are two hitmans sent to Bruges by their ruthless cockney boss (Ralph Fiennes) where they must wait for orders.
I can mention a few films to compare In Bruges with, firstly Guy Ritchie’s Lock, stock and Snatch (I agree with people who think there basically the same film) and other films like Intermission and perhaps even Grosse Pointe Blank. Now all the above the films tackle similar themes, an essential plot being the hitman(s), however the important thing to note with In Bruges is that despite tackling these themes it takes on a refreshingly different feel. Lock, stock and Snatch gives you the full on action of cockney gangsters with a littering of crash zooms to highlight there hardness. (I enjoyed writing that last line) In Bruges begins with an almost laid back approach to Ray and Ken’s small predicament, a great characteristic explored throughout is Ken’s love of sight seeing.
Im not a great fan of Colin Farrell he just hasn’t convinced me enough in his performances, however I found him brilliant as the comical Ray. His character is ‘out of luck’ shall we say, having messed up on his previous job he finds himself stuck in effin Bruges. With brilliant dialogue between himself and Ken we don’t see a hapless sidekick merely for comedic effect, Farrell makes this character his own with some brilliant expressions, tones of voice and well those eyebrows. I’m sure someone else will have talked about the eyebrows. Surely? Brendan Gleeson checks in with another solid performance, showing once again why he is one of the most reliable actors around. Towards the end Ralph Fiennes joins in with all the fun as his cockney boss. At first I was a bit puzzled by the casting the demeanor of the character, his accent and overall attitude was hard to fit with the face of Fiennes. Fortunately thanks to his acting capabilities this feeling was worn off as the film reached its conclusion.
Here comes my main problem. Ray’s love interest played by Clemence Poesy most well known for her role as Fleur in those Harry Potter films. Now there’s nothing wrong with her performance, its perfectly adequate in fact. No its the character itself and the implications it has on Ray. To start with the character has less depth than the shallow end of a pool in an area undergoing water shortages. (forgive me for that last line) All she is in the film for is to relax Ray and give him hope in a life that he can barely cope with. Although at times the moments they spent together give the best of Farrell (“The Bottle!”) rather than adding to the film it takes away.
I can hardly review the film without mentioning the climax, I will try to explain my general opinion with out giving away the ending. I’m still unsure as to whether I am satisfied or even like the ending, but one thing is clear that it keeps true to the themes and moods of the film. In Bruges offers the crime comedy a different pathway and I’m sure fans of Black comedy will join with me in hoping the genre takes that pathway.