"If I'd grown up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me, but I didn't, so it doesn't."
Written & Directed by: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes
My rating 5/10
In Bruges is Martin McDonagh's first feature, following on from his triumphant Oscar-winning short Six Shooter (2004). It's the story of two Dublin gangsters (Gleeson and Farrell) on the run from Ireland. Their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes)sends them to Bruges, Belgium to hide out. Grumpy Ray (Farrell)hates the fact that he has to be away from his precious Dublin while Ken is enjoying the break and taking in the quiet and pretty surroundings.
The film starts off really well and the chemistry between the leads is wonderful. Their adventures in Bruges ramble along almost arbitrarily and it is overall an enjoyable experience. In the second half of the film, however, the film takes a turn into typical gangster fare that we've all seen a hundred times. The introduction of Ralph Fiennes character was so late in the film that the film changed tone and felt like an entirely different film. This is unfortunate, as it had been going along so well at the start.
By far the best thing about In Bruges is Brendan Gleeson's wonderful portrayal of Ken, a man full of regret and in search of peace. Of course, this is a staple of the gangster genre and there's nothing original about this type of character. However, Gleeson's performance transcends stereotypes and make you feel heartbroken as you see him grasp on to the purity and innocence of being a tourist, while he is being dragged back into his own murky world.
Colin Farrell, on the other hand, was really dead in this one. I'm usually a fan. He's a wonderful actor and he has proven he can play a young Irish blaggard in Intermission (2003). Here, however, not only is he over-playing the role, but he seems to have forgotten what it is to be a Dubliner. He played it like an outsider. Maybe he's been in Hollywood too long.
Despite its drawbacks, this is a very entertaining film and its themes of torturous regret and the inescapable circle of karma give it a little extra emotional punch that allows it to rise above the Guy Ritchie league of gangster films.
It's worth a look, but it won't blow your mind.
- Charlene Lydon 22/5/2008