Saturday, March 22, 2008

Review: In Bruges (2008) [Reviewed By David Dominic DiMichele]

Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes

Director: Martin McDonagh

Release Date: January 17, 2008

Running Time: 107 min

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor: Focus Features
**** out of ****

Where or what exactly is Bruges (pronounced "broozh") you ask? Well, technically it’s a town in Belgium that occupies "fairytale" like surroundings. It presents to the audience an unseen world that consists of an array of medieval buildings, pubs and streets lined with outdoor bistros. Bruges is a town that’s not only an undiscovered tourist attraction but it’s pretty much perfect in its environment. But more importantly, you can say that Bruges plays host to an unforgettable movie, characters that are more than unique and dialogue that’s so sharp, remorseless and funny.

Don’t make the mistake and begin to label this movie as another "hit-man" film or a poor man’s version of a Tarantino film. In Bruges towers over all recent gun-happy movies and has the most confidence and creativity than any other movie in this genre since Pulp Fiction. The creative juice is abundant. It’s granted to In Bruges by writer and director Martin McDonagh (in his first feature length film) that starts with him and slowly reverberates throughout the entire cast of the movie.

The result of this formula is a career high for Colin Farrell (who’s having quite a year with Cassandra’s Dream) and the usual acting clinic that Brendan Gleeson showcases for us. They play Ray and Ken, two good friends who are hit-men sent to Bruges from Dublin in order to keep a low profile after one of their hits in London turned sour. They now have to wait for a phone call by their boss Harry, played venomously by Ralph Fiennes. He sets them up in Bruges because he admires it there and wants them to witness the same experience he felt when he was there.

Ray and Ken aren’t your ordinary hit-men. They don’t kill at the drop of a hat. They eat dinner causally and sip beer the same way. They don’t have Jason Bourne like attributes. They do what they have to do. The two hit-men and their boss each have their own moral code they live by. Above all, this movie is a study of the human choice and the moral values each one lives and dies by. Ray, the rebel and young-buck of the business, hates Bruges right off the bat. He tries easing up to the place when he meets a scorching hot native (Clemence Poesy). While Ken, on the other hand, the seasoned veteran of the business and philosopher like speaker, wants to sight see the entire time. He even buys tour guide books to get in the spirit. Each of them know what they do is wrong and at one point they talk about heaven, hell and purgatory while starring at a painting. They want to know what category they fall under.

That’s all the plot you’re getting from me because of all the twists and turns it only makes me want to bathe in this movie over and over again. Amidst all the razor sharp dialogue and the humor that’s depicted, there comes a deep message. We have one of our characters looking for salvation but can’t find it anywhere. Another who’s faced with a business ordeal that has the most extreme circumstances involved. Ray doesn’t like Bruges at all but he has to admit that there’s something innocent about the place. Maybe, purgatory?

And that leads me to the direction, which is flawless. McDonagh does a wonderful job at weaving humor with intense bloodshed and violence. I’ve never seen a movie filmed in this area of Belgium and the camera feels that way as well. It moves as though it wants to view everything in its vicinity; constantly eager to see what’s coming around the block. McDonagh voluptuously captures the essence of such a city that fell off the map somehow and never seemed to be looked for until now. A perfect music score composed by Carter Burwell only makes the "fairytale" world that Bruges is even more true.

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