Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes
Clémence Poésy, Jordan Prentice, Jérémie Renier, Thekla Reuten
After a job gone bad, hitmen, Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) are sent by their boss, Harry Waters (Fiennes), to hide for a while and await further instruction in Bruges, Belgium.
For Ken, the medieval architecture and quaintness of the city comes to indulge his inner history buff, while for the emotionally unstable Ray it becomes a terrenal representation of whatever purgatory must feel like.
Things turn around when Ken receives orders to get rid of Ray, while Ray falls for a seductive drug dealer (Poésy).
Feature length debut by writer/director McDonagh, "In Bruges" is a well done pastiche of comedy, gangster and action that works mostly because of its inspired dialogue which at times is made out of offensive, racist and sexist remarks that somehow fit because of how true they remain to the characters uttering them.
McDonagh's theatrical background is felt throughout the film by the way in which the characters and settings are usually treated as symbols.
While Ray represents the conflicted conscience, Ken brings a sense of weird morality that we should be questioning because of its source and with the somber inclusion of Harry ends up having Shakespearean repercussions.
Influenced by classic noir (watching "Touch of Evil" play in the TV during one scene is enough to put a smile on your face) the movie owes itself to many gems of the cinematic style as much as it does to Tarantino and Scorsese.
Gleeson does a terrific job playing a sensitive mentor, while Fiennes goes into psychotic Amon Goeth mode to deliver a great star turn (his line about why he deserves a "normal gun for normal people" might be the most offensive thing you've heard in your entire life), the real surprise here though is Farrell who does more with his character than you'd ever expect.
While Ray is written as a guy who just killed someone he shouldn't have and has time to flirt and do girls, Farrell gives him a damaged soul that he can't hide despite his lines.
His combination of humor, sadness and humanity is outstanding.
With fast cuts, even faster lines and a droll sense of humor, the plot unfolds before your eyes in an almost surrealistic way which in a way might come from Bruges, which ends up being its most influential character.
The city, which has never gotten cinematic justice, comes to life as a sort of limbo where time has stood still. The Flemish jokes and clichés fly like bullets, but without this sense of timeless dread the hitmen wouldn't really have anything to work with.
It is because of the magic of Bruges that we even care about their problems, its "fairy tale" qualities as they call them, are what makes us believe that people like them deserve to have a second chance.