“In Bruges” (2008) is an unorthodox and darkly humorous crime film about two hitmen, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) who botch the assassination of a Catholic priest, and are sent to Bruges by their employer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) to await further instructions. Their reactions to the fabled medieval city are starkly contrasting though, as Ken embraces its beauty and historical significance, while Ken steadfastly repudiates everything about it from day one.
With inordinate time on their hands, Ray and Ken browse Bruges haphazardly, chancing upon a film set where Ray encounters a production assistant named Chloë (Clémence Poésy). Their encounter proves fateful, as Ray is soon caught up in an illicit affair that ultimately involves her boyfriend Erik (Jérémie Renier), whose intentions are far from pure. These transgressions are soon followed by the arrival of the vulgar and volatile Harry, who remains adamant that the failed hit be requited. His ingression brings ominous shades of peril, as the mortality of all three leads soon comes to a point of reckoning.
Written and directed by notable Irish playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (“Seven Psychopaths”, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), “In Bruges” is an unique foray into the darker side of comedy, delivering wry humor and jarring violence in varied measure. Farrell and Gleeson shine brightest in their compelling roles, with credit to McDonagh for advancing his trademark themes of uncompromising narrative and dynamic character interaction. A real treat for those with a taste for something off the beaten path, cinematically.
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