Movie Review: In Bruges

Title: In Bruges
Release Date: February 8, 2008
Director: Martin McDonagh
Production Company: Blueprint Pictures | Film4 Productions | Focus Features | Scion Films

In this most bizarre spinoff from the Wizard World of Harry Potter, aurors Percival Graves and Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody are sent to Bruges, Belgium by their boss Lord Voldemort after a hit on Aberforth Dumbledore goes awry.  While there Graves forms a relationship with Fleur Delacour.  Okay, I’m having a laugh here, but this movie shares a lot of actors with the Harry Potter series, and good actors, too.  Apropos, In Bruges is an actors’ movie drawing out a very human, character-driven story against the backdrop of Bruges’ historic medieval city center.

I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for about 11 years now, and glad I finally got around to it. I was expecting an over-the-top black comedy crime story like Trainspotting or Intermission. While In Bruges shares qualities with those prior films, it is also quieter and more introspective at times.  Colin Farrel plays the young hitman Ray whose job killing a priest goes wrong and is sent to Bruges with his mentor Ken (Brendan Gleeson). While Ken enjoys the holiday as a chance to explore historic Bruges, for Ray the city feels more like purgatory.  He wavers between being suicidal and partying a local petty thief, Chloë (Clémence Poésy) and a dwarf film actor, Jimmy (Jordan Prentice).

Ultimately the movie comes down to a debate of whether or not Ray can be redeemed. Ken, despite being a hardened criminal himself, sees Ray as someone who can make a difference in the world.  On the other side, their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) sees the world in black & white and believes that Ray must be killed to restore order.  It’s a very well-acted film, and even minor roles like pregnant owner of the hotel (Thekla Reuten) where Ray and Ken are staying have clearly defined character moments.  Fiennes does go over the top though towards the films climax, which may be the film’s biggest minus.

Rating: ****