I love me some Martin McDonagh. His work as a playwright is quite astounding. "The Pillowman" is one of the best plays I have ever had the pleasure to read. I was still a bit skeptical when he made the jump to film as the writer/director of "In Bruges". That's why it took me so long to actually watch the film. I didn't want my perfect record with McDonagh possibly ruined. I should have never doubted. "In Bruges" is everything that makes McDonagh so good all rolled up into a wonderfully dark, unapolagetically un-pc, and somewhat disturbing comedy. It's damn near brilliant.
Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) are two hit men who have to run and stay hidden in Bruges when a hit goes somewhat south in London. As they wait for a call from their boss Harry (Fiennes), that have to bide their time looking at all the Gothic churches, canals, and cobbled streets whilst they both deal with the guilt and weight of their professions on their hearts. When Ken finds out from Harry that his next hit has to be Ray (due to debacle in London), its a test of mentor's love for student as the two men have to finally decide how the rest of their lives will play out.
There are dark comedies and then there is "In Bruges". It plays out in sheer dramatic force (with some stunning acting work from the three main players) with the comedic moments so dry and so dark that many times one is so enthralled with the characters and their predicament that you forget it can be funny. I still laughed my ass off more than once at some of the ridiculousness of the film (seeing Colin Farrell karate chop a midget high on cocaine after a riveting conversation about how the world will end up as a massive war between whites and minorities is something to be remembered) and the chemistry between the characters leads to some greatly fun and dark moments too.
If you are easily offended though, then you might want to skip "In Bruges". Although it is a great character study with a simply but effective plot, the dialogue and characters are never politically correct. With a racist midget, an overall hatred for Americans in Europe, drug use, substantial and graphic violence, dialogue that never edits itself (to mostly a humorous effect), and awkward moments aplenty this movie never shys away from its own darkness. It doesn't try hard to be vulgar, like many Kevin Smith films, it just seems very realistically dirty in its characters and story. Which of course, is par for the course for Martin McDonagh.
I was insanely impressed with "In Bruges". McDonagh expertly directs and writes this comedic drama with old school flair for details and appreciation for letting actors do their job. Its funny. Its heartfelt. Its ruthless. Its everything a comedy should be and a perfect launching point for McDonagh's career in film.
Written By Matt Reifschneider