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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Review

In Bruges
Written and Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson and Clémence Poesy

Sam North

Is there any more perfect British Christmas movie than 'In Bruges' ( winner of the Writers Guild best screenplay award 2008 for Martin McDonagh and Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a comedy for Colin Farrell).

From the moment Ray (Colin Farrell) is wittering on about what a 'shit-hole' Bruges is you know something's up. Two hitmen on holiday in Bruges. One Ken (Brendan Gleeson) loves it there and one hates it. They are holed up awaiting orders after a hit's gone wrong.

Ken embraces the history and culture, Ray despises everything and indeed is working up to killing himself. Add a dwarf strayed from Living in Oblivion (another brilliant indie movie) a girl, Chloe (Clemence Poesy) and an evil boss Harry, played with gusto by Ralph Fienes and you have a great mix.

The story is bleak but there is a pretty awful local movie being made in the town and the dwarf is in the dream sequence, the girl is corrupting everyone and Ray and Ken have time to kill. Ken awaits instructions on the next hit with stoic patience, Ray is on self-destruct however. Not exactly being helpful to obese Canadians either.

Chloe: So what do you do Raymond?
Ray: I shoot people for money.
Chloe: What kinds of people?
Ray: Priests, children you know, the usual.
Chloe: Is there a lot of money to be made in that business?
Ray: There is for priests. There isn't for children. So what is it you do Chloe?
Chloe: I sell cocaine and heroin to Belgian film crews.

Ray is haunted by a botched job that went wrong and a child died. Ken is there to make sure he doesn't do anything else stupid. When Harry's orders finally come through to Ken to kill Ray you know it's not going to go well.
From Prizi's Honour to Mr and Mrs Smith, pitting hitmen against each other is a recipe for disaster and even if Ray is suicidal, he's met a girl now and that fatally alters everything.
When Harry arrives to see the job done all hell breaks loose and although grim, it's funny, and sharp in a way that reminds one of early Michael Caine movies. Farrell completely redeems himself as an actor (Anyone who ever saw Miami Vice would know what I mean) and Brendan Gleeson as the hitman with a heart is a perfect foil. Bruges itself makes a great setting and makes you realise that we are much deprived of European settings for movies. This film enjoys itself and it is infectious. Harry is way over the top as the evil boss and no one can really trust anyone. Tension builds. Get the DVD you won't regret it.

Now nominated for Golden Globes and indeed a winner for Colin Farrell as best actor - In Bruges is a reminder of what cinema is for, cruel enjoyment of other people suffering. Highly Recommended.

© Sam North January 12th 2009
Editor Hackwriters
Author of
Mean Tide

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