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FilmSoc Reviews: In Bruges

Posted by FilmSoc on Mon, 16-03-2020

By Eoin McCambridge

Day 4 of this lockdown and already bored out of my mind. If there’s one good thing to come out of this isolation period though is that you have plenty of time to watch movies. After watching this film I struggled to articulate my thoughts on it so I decided to start writing things down and I thought Id share it. Stay safe, wash your hands etc. 


Almost 12 years ago now the world was introduced to writer director Martin McDonagh with his debut feature In Bruges. Starring Irish duo Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two hitmen ordered to go to the city of Bruges in Belgium by their boss Harry after carrying out a hit in London and are awaiting further instruction. Farrells Ray and Gleeson’s Ken have a great chemistry, a prime example being Kens interest in the culturally rich landmarks of the medieval city while Ray regularly expresses his disdain for the ‘boring’ historical city and brands it a ‘shithole’. This chemistry is explored through the hyper stylised, expletive filled and comedic dialogue McDonagh has since become known for, regularly described as Taratino-esque at the time of the films release. While curse ridden and in your face the dialogue can also be rather subtle when it needs to be. Upon the men’s arrival in Bruges its evident things aren’t as they seem by how the characters interact through lingering sentences and quiet pauses. In this respect Gleeson and Farrell give very good performances, often portraying a message without saying anything. To continue about the dialogue its key in setting the tone of various scenes, yet once again it’s not as straight forward as you’d think. You’d be hard pressed to find a scene with one consistent emotional tone as our two protagonists will chaotically reflect on their depressingly dark life’s as killers for hire while slipping back and forth into nonsensical stories about lollipop men or the Vietnamese. This duality is ever present in the film with McDonagh balancing tone on a knife edge between sad and comedic, and this is mostly in part to the great dialogue found in the script. Similarly, the film never firmly comes down on who if any of the characters could be considered ‘the good guy’, instead portraying a complicated set of people and poses the question to the audience of are they worth redemption? That is a key term when walking about this film; redemption, as In Bruges is always toying with the very concept itself through the hitmen characters. 

In Bruges is a special film, partly because it was the beginning for a now lauded director and partly because it is set in a location so different to those found in similar movies but also because its just very good. McDonagh manages to tell a funny and sad story about life choices, morality, judgement and redemption through what essentially amounts to three highly entertaining characters. Go see it.


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