In Bruges focuses on two hitmen who are sent to Bruges to lay low after a job goes horribly wrong. Offering the perfect place to hideout, a medieval city packed with culture that raises it's own challenges to the younger of the two men. The long wait for the call that will give them some direction, leads to a surprising connection that complicates the brutal request from Harry their Psychotic boss.
It's fair to say, that there has been a huge number of gangster movies that tend to become a little cliche. However, In Bruges is surprisingly different. This was the first feature-length film from the immensely talented playwriter, Martin McDonagh. McDonagh won an Oscar in 2004 for his short film Six Shooter which he wrote and directed. For me, this was the first work I had seen from McDonagh and was totally blown away. He develops powerful characters, with a strongly structured story and finishes it all off with fantastic cinematography.
A clear standout from Martin McDonagh is his outstanding ability for writing dark comedy. This skill seems to run in the family, as his brother John Michael McDonagh has written and directed films like The Guard and Calvary. But, In Bruges is right up there as one of the best dark comedies ever. The script is relentless, hitting the audience with brilliant one-liners that come hard and fast. Yet there is also some extremely gritty drama and some deep emotional connections with the key characters.
In Bruges has three main characters, the two hitmen Ken and Ray, then their unhinged Boss Harry. These three extremely different characters are brilliantly cast. Brendan Gleeson gives a seamless performance as Ken, the older and much more experienced of the two hitmen. Colin Farrell is exceptional as Ray, the childish and thoroughly miserable character that hates every second of being In Bruges. But the real standout comes from Ralph Fiennes who plays Harry. Fiennes gives an unsettling performance, that literally unnerves the viewer in every scene in which he appears. It's clear that McDonagh gets the best out of these actors, but it does become a showcase of two acting masters in the scenes when Ken and Harry go head to head.
Yes, Gleeson, Farrel and Fiennes do steal the whole show. But the rest of the cast give strong performances too. French actress, Clémence Poésy shines as the love interest, working brilliantly with Farrell and the complex humour woven into each scene.
All in all, In Bruges, is an exceptional movie that provides a totally unique cinematic experience. All topped off with extremely funny British humour and outstanding acting from its key cast members. The only catch is, there is a lot of swearing and whilst there is not a huge amount of violence when it does come it does have a lot of shock value. So probably not great if you are easily offended.