Classic Review – In Bruges (2008)

Title – In Bruges (2008)

Director – Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Cast – Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Clémence Poésy, Ralph Fiennes, Ciarán Hinds

Plot – After a botched job, hitmen and mismatched friends Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) find themselves in Belgium in the medieval city of Bruges, where they must lay low and wait for their fiery boss to make their next moves.  

“I want a normal gun for a normal person”

Review by Eddie on 07/05/2020

At the time more well-regarded for his work in the theatre space, Oscar winning director/screenwriter Martin McDonagh made a triumphant cinematic debut in 2008 with the pitch black comedy In Bruges, announcing himself as a filmmaker of unique talent in the process.

A rough and raw feature that lacks the polish of his crowning achievement Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (but also much better than his odd misstep Seven Psychopaths), In Bruges brilliantly unites the talents of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, as the two have the times of their lives bringing their characters of Ray and Ken to life.

Mismatched friends that can match it with the best of cinematic odd couples, Ray and Ken provide Farrell and Gleeson a great chance too bounce off each other as they get some delightfully unhinged and sometimes utterly wonderful McDonagh dialogue to operate from.

With its expletive ridden and taboo shaking mandate, In Bruges is sure to offend as much as its likely to engage its audience but there’s a sweetness and human focussed heart to everything that happens throughout McDonagh’s Belgium set yarn and while both Ray and Ken are extremely flawed individuals, their life lessons and life changing decisions ground In Bruges as it’s over the top and more far-fetched plot moves forward.

There’s not many films out there that can engage with such mundane situations but In Bruges is mostly at its best when it’s nothing more than Farrell and Gleeson sightseeing around the grey and oppressive surrounds of Bruges, with Farrell’s unrefined Ray begrudgingly accepting Ken’s keen offers of tourist activities, in what Ray feels is a city akin to hell on earth.

It’s a testament to both performers and McDonagh’s skill as a writer of characters and director of tales that this facet of In Bruges is a highlight, as when the film starts to stretch out its scope in the latter stages when Ralph Fiennes crime boss Harry gets into the picture, In Bruges begins to feel like a slightly different film altogether as its simple joys give way to a more convoluted and more unbelieve plotting, making you long to return to day trips with Ken and Ray, where their biggest concerns were racist dwarves and overweight American tourists.

By the conclusion of the film you realise McDonagh’s first up feature effort is one that is flawed and slightly unrefined, but an effort nonetheless that signposted great things to come from a hugely original voice in a crowded medium.

Final Say –

Shocking, funny and filled with memorable characters, In Bruges is raw in many ways but when filled with some brilliant dialogue and two top notch central performances, Martin McDonagh’s visit to Europe is a trip you will never forget.

4 normal beers out of 5     

18 responses to “Classic Review – In Bruges (2008)

  1. This one always comes to mind when people ask me what my favorite movie is. It just works on so many levels for me and I’ve loved it since I was first introduced to it. Great review!

    • Cheers Due! I must admit, first time I watched it I didn’t fall in love with it, but upon re-watch I realized I was very wrong.

  2. so many great scenes. “You’re an inanimate fucking object!” has been quoted many times over the years.

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