In Bruges Review
After a particularly difficult job, hit men Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) head to Belgium to hide out until things cool down. Ray hates the medieval city they land in, but Ken finds its beauty and peacefulness enchanting. Their experiences become increasingly surreal and possibly life-changing as they encounter tourists, locals, an American dwarf and a potential romance for Ray.
Writer and director, Martin McDonagh, allegedly found inspiration to write In Bruges after a trip to the famous Belgian city. He said that while he initially found it mesmerizing, taken by the culture and architecture, he soon became bored and just wanted to get drunk. This sparked the creation of two characters in his mind; the “culture-loving geek” and the “drunken slut.”
The film follows two contract killers sent to Bruges by their boss, Harry. Harry orders them to enjoy the “fairy-tale” city and absorb the sights until further instruction. Despite Ken’s best efforts to convince Ray the city is both magical and historically fascinating, Ray rejects it all and drowns his well-placed sorrows in the nearest pub.
I adore this film. Everything about it just feels right, like it fits. A film’s soundtrack is one of the major points I notice when watching anything and In Bruges nails the music. The plot is relatively simple, yet there are enough plot lines and stories to keep the viewer interested. The way McDonagh weaves these plot lines around one another and converges them so beautifully is genius. Everything in this film matters. Every character is important. Every piece of imagery, every painting, and every conversation adds something important to the overall arc of the film and it amalgamates to an emotional climax.
McDonagh has created a compelling story wrought with emotional struggle that pulled me in from the first minute. The complex relationship between Ken and Ray evolves at a natural pace that meant I found myself caring for these characters. Ken is aware of Ray’s mental struggle and looks out for him, acting more like a friend than a colleague. There is nothing overly flashy or complicated and it doesn’t attempt to be something that it isn’t. It’s a simple, beautiful piece with compelling characters and a believable story arc. From Ray getting entangled with a local filmmaker, to Ken’s private dealings with Harry, everything made sense. I enjoyed In Bruges so much that I watched it twice in two days; if that doesn’t vouch for it then I don’t know what does.