Sunday, June 29, 2008

In Bruges: Grade B

In Bruges (2008)
Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clemence Poesy, Thekla Reuten, Jordan Prentice. Writer-Director Martin McDonagh.

This ultra-noir comedy is shot in Bruges, Belgium, a beautiful city. Two hitmen (Farrell and Gleeson) await instructions from their boss (Fiennes) about their next job. There is humorous back and forth as Farrell, exercising his Groucho Marx eyebrows, petulantly complains about being bored with “culture and all that crap” (“history is just a bunch of stuff that’s already happened”), while Gleeson drags him to medieval churches and takes him on cold, windy canal tours. We learn in a flashback the special rule that governs these hit men: if you kill an innocent boy, that’s wrong, and you must kill yourself. Makes sense, right? Whatever, that’s the rule that controls the whole story.

The story is utter nonsense, and any residual of realism is sacrificed when Gleeson falls from a tower, his head exploding like a watermelon on the sidewalk, but he isn’t dead! No, he still has time to give a few crucial words of advice to Farrell. When Farrell is shot five times through the abdomen with an automatic weapon loaded with dum-dums, he doesn’t die, either. There are some funny lines and some melodramatic moments too, but there is no realistic overall comedic or dramatic story so the character arcs are hard to take seriously. Farrell overacts; Gleeson does a good job, Prentice is fascinating, but Fiennes is super intense, even electrifying. His character should have been brought in much earlier. Cinematography is stylish and enjoyable, as is the music. A tighter story with more respect for realism would have made it an excellent film.


  1. You and I have very similar movie tastes. Was wondering if you'd like to link to each others' blog?

  2. Bill,

    Thank you for comment. I read the reviews of the two films you saw at the Seattle Film Festival. Mermaid is actually one of the films I very much wanted to see at Sundance this year, but didn't have the time. I really enjoyed your reviews. I placed a link on my page to your's under the tag 'Movies in a Nutshell,' and subscribed to your feed. I'm looking forward to reading more from you.