Director – Martin McDonagh
Writer – Martin McDonagh
Starring – Colin Farrell, Bredan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jordan Prentice, Clemence Poesy
The awkward title of In Bruges kind of sums up the feel of the film itself. The film, as funny and entertaining as it is at times, just doesn’t seem to work as well as it should. Something which is mostly down to the mix of trying to be funny and deadly serious at the same time.
After a difficult assignment, two hit men are told to hide out in Bruges, Belgium. One wants to sightsee while the other just wants to go home but both must wait there and lie-low until they get instructions from their employer.
What struck me as being very odd and frankly left me disappointed about In Bruges was how much more serious the film is than it was made out to be in the advertisements. The trailer especially made it seem like a full-on crime/comedy caper where the humorous script would take fore-front to everything else. Instead, although the film is still very funny, we get a far more serious than anticipated crime/comedy/drama that deals with death, guilt and regret. Some may see that as a pleasant surprise whereas I felt as if, at times, it was another version of a movie I would rather be watching.
Now as I mentioned the film is funny. The script, penned by first time feature director Martin McDonagh, is filled with great one-liners, snappy timing and an overall original feel to it. I was quite surprised at how far they went to make some of the jokes they wanted to and I feel like there are quite a few different kinds of people who might take offence. These jokes mainly come from Farrell’s Ray, who is, according to Gleeson’s Ken, “the worst tourist in the whole world.” He is clearly having a ball being able to use his natural Irish accent as up until now he seems to have always had to fake an accent for his various roles. There are jokes about everything from midgets and overweight people to black people and Americans. I haven’t come across a film yet that has offended me personally but having said that I haven’t really came across any which makes a fool of what I am. In the end though no matter what type of person you are you have to take what is said in the film in the right way as it is,a fter all, just a film and they are only jokes.
The film overall doesn’t really gel together all that well. It seemed like there were different bits of different movies trying to be jammed together, kind of like trying to force the wrong pieces of jigsaw puzzle to fit together. It starts off quite serious, then jumps to being funny for a big chunk of time then cuts back to being serious. This happens all throughout the movie basically see-sawing between being serious and comedic and never quite getting the right balance of the two.
The story of the film I think contains some points that are a bit too outlandish, specifically the job that went wrong where Farrell accidentally shot a young alter boy, and therefore it’s a bit hard to believe. It is, however, nice to see a diverse location to the usual American or British one we get with crime films. Although one of the film’s long running jokes is the fact that Bruges is a boring place to be it still none the less is nice to have a change of setting.
My expectations of the film being less serious and more comedic led me to be let down by it. It’s way more serious than it ought to be and overall it feels like a guy Guy Ritchie film sans the high sense of insistence on the comedy.
Pretty much all of the cast are great here, in particular the three leads, Farrell, Gleeson and Fiennes, are a joy to watch. The latter I was quite surprised took on this kind of a role but in the end I have to give him credit; it shows how diverse he can be. Gleeson is, needless to say, great here, he brings a certain maturity and professionalism to the film. His character may play second fiddle to Farrell’s but it allows how to provide an effective backing to emphasize Farrell’s quick-witted, foul-mouthed bad tourist.
In Bruges isn’t as good as it could have been, mostly down to it’s uneven pace and tone. The whole thing doesn’t quite work and the plot points are a bit hard to believe and easy to see coming at times. However the dialogue is funny, the performances great and it’s generally a lot of fun. Fortunately the good out weighs the bad here even if the bad puts up a good fight.