Modern Greats: In Bruges

in-bruges-posterIt takes a lot for a recent film to make it into this prestigious section. This may only be the second post but in the weeks months and years to come, you will see untold levels of prestigiousness here.

2008’s In Bruges was an unexpected pleasure, the set up might sound run of the mill but the end result is anything but. Martin McDonagh makes his feature film debut, a well respected playwright before he turned to film I was intrigued to see what he would come up with. His short film ‘Six Shooter’ won an Oscar and it’s star Brendon Gleeson (give the man awards, now!) reunites with him for In Bruges.

After a botched kill, two hit men are told to wait in Bruges by their boss Harry (a superb Ralph Finnes). Once there, despite Ken’s (Gleeson) best efforts to do some sight seeing Ray (Farrell) is restless. Ken receives a phone call from Harry, asking if Ray has had a nice time there. Such pleasantries are dispensed with quickly as Harry reminds Ken that Ray killed an innocent boy and must pay the price. Harry gives the order for Ray’s death, to be carried out by Ken.
It’s not long before Ray gets himself into trouble, naturally there’s a woman, drugs, double crosses and a dwarf involved in the escalating caper. Ken can’t go through with it, he tells Ray and puts him on a train. Ken the calls Harry and tells him what he’s done, a vengeful Harry leaves London to do the job himself.

Now, I have never been a fan of Colin Farrell I liked Tigerland and Phone Booth but that was it. In the space of 100 minutes I changed my opinion on him completely, he gave Ray real depth and there are a couple of scenes you really feel for him. We’re not meant to like him, he’s brash, offensive and he accidentally shot a child. Yet we warm to his character, we’re almost rooting for him to leave this life behind. You believe his crime haunts him, credit to McDonagh for an outstanding script but Farrell really brings it home. I’m still not a fan of his past works but he has made some good movies since.

In-BrugesBrendon Gleeson is one of those actor that’s consistently good in everything, from Braveheart to The General, from 28 Days Later to the Harry Potter films Gleeson never fails to impress. He has been in the odd bad movie but he’s never been bad in anything, every actor does the ‘paycheck’ film from time to time. How he has never been nominated for an Oscar is a mystery, but he’s always seemed like awards don’t bother him much. Clearly this opinion is shared by McDonagh’s brother, John Michael McDonagh as he cast Gleeson in his recent debut The Guard.

I was originally drawn to this film to see what McDonagh’s feature debut was like and of course Gleeson and Finnes are reasons alone to see a movie. I enjoyed it so much I went back to see it again the following week. I must of seen it 10 times by now so it’s status as one of our favourites is valid. Unhurried direction, brilliant performances and a sharp script make In Bruges a real gem.
If you haven’t seen it check it out, you won’t be disappointed

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