In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2008)

In Bruges

Everyone says how good this film is – and I’m not going to disagree. Two hit-men, seasoned pro Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and young buck Ray (Colin Farrell) arrive in the chocolate-box-pretty city of Bruges, as instructed by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes, only appearing initially as a voice full of obscenities over the phone). Neither man knows why they are there, except that they are hiding out after something went wrong in their last job.

Ken is perfectly happy to look round the historic city though Ray regards it as a “shithole”, wanting a more vibrant and metropolitan place. Ray also objects to Belgium’s excellent beers, regarding them as “gay”, and only happy when he can find a familiar lager. Ray manages, against instructions, to slip out and start a relationship with a pretty young actress, Choe (Clémence Poésy) – it seems Bruges might not be so terrible, after all.

Harry’s menacing and very sweary presence lingers over the two men as they wait for instructions which, when they arrive, throw a pall over Ray and Ken’s relationship and change the dynamic completely and a violent confrontation becomes inevitable.

With smart, funny dialogue and tremendous acting all round, this takes characters in all sorts of unexpected directions, with seemingly one-dimensional characters becoming surprisingly complex, even if much of the plot pans out broadly as can be anticipated.

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