Rated R; Directed by Martin McDonagh; Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clémence Poésy, Jordan Prentice
There is something very wrong about the way the Academy Awards® race goes to films and performances that open late in December. Shoot, in Flagstaff we’re lucky if we even get them the following February. The problem with all these quality films appearing at the last minute (and possibly never here in Flag) is that those quality films that showed up earlier in the year do not get the attention they deserve. In Bruges is one of those films. The performances by the two leading men will undeservedly get overlooked.
Bruges is a gorgeous city in Belgium. It becomes a character in the fascinating tale of two hitmen hiding out in that city after a hit goes terribly wrong. In Bruges is a smart, moving, funny, and entertaining movie that offers some surprises. The script deserves an Academy Awards nomination. It gives Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson roles that should get Oscar® attention.
Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are hiding in Bruges, waiting for a call from their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes). Stuck in Bruges until allowed back to Dublin by Harry, the two take in the sights of Bruges. Ken finds the beauty of Bruges satisfying, while Ray could care less about culture; he wants fun. When he meets Chloe (Clémence Poésy) Bruges seems less boring. While Ken enjoys the cathedrals and art, Ray is more entertained by a local movie set and one of the actors (Jordan Prentice) who has issues of his own.
The movie starts slowly, as we learn about Ray and Ken. We soon find the differences between the two men more and more interesting. When Ralph Fiennes’ Harry shows up, all hell breaks loose.
The film gives us memorable performances. Colin Farrell’s Ray is a hotheaded, unhappy man of violence, while Brendan Gleeson’s more serious Ken shows us his longing for something different in life. Amazingly, both characters capture our sympathies. Really, how the script and the performances make two hitmen touching characters is a work of art.
There is plenty of humor in the story. Writer and director, Martin McDonagh knows how to use words to create a mood. As a first-time director, McDonagh manages to further the mood. The humor he finds in Harry’s cussing (there’s a lot of cussing in the film, highlighted hilariously in one of the DVD’s special features) or in Ray’s reaction to Bruges keeps things light. McDonagh also creates some incredibly touching scenes.
Though Ray may find Bruges a “s—hole” the movie makes us see the film through Ken’s eyes. It’s a beautiful city. In Bruges is also a beautiful film even if it is about men who kill for a living. Though Oscar® may overlook In Bruges, you shouldn’t.