Ten Reasons Why You Should See In Bruges

Published on January 30th, 2010 in: Culture Shock, Issues, Kiss Me I'm Irish, Movie Reviews, Movies, Staff Picks, Top Ten Lists |

By Michelle Patterson

In Bruges, a delightful and surprising film out of Ireland that won critical acclaim in 2008—winning a Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Golden Globe for Colin Farrell, gaining an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and winning numerous awards in its native country—deserves much credit for being a genuinely black comedy.

When it is funny, it creates guffaws a-plenty and when it is black, it is inky, friends. What is most astonishing is how it manages to allow the proper amount of depth within the characterization. Yet, when one considers that the filmmaker, Martin MacDonagh, is a well-established playwright and has a Best Live Action Short Film Academy Award under his belt for his first foray into film, Six Shooter, it isn’t really that shocking. We’re also reminded that Colin Farrell can act. So, let’s settle into the Top Ten Moments of one brilliant piece of Irish filmmaking.

in bruges 1
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson

1. No Really, This IS Inspired Casting: This is a reiteration, but the key to the film’s success as a good story is that you believe in the pathos of Colin Farrell’s character, Ray. His conflict at finding a reason to live after committing a truly horrible crime shows his power as an actor. Thankfully, he delivers a touching performance; not to mention, he is funny as hell. Farrell deserved the Golden Globe and beat some serious competition that year, including his co-star Brendan Gleeson, Javier Bardem’s salacious turn in Vicky, Christina, Barcelona, and James Franco’s inspired stoner in Pineapple Express.

2. Refusal To Stick To Cinematic Stereotypes: The simple story of two hit men hiding out after a hit gone wrong doesn’t mean that it has to stick to the basics like many of its cinematic cohorts. One of the hit men happens to be a homosexual and thanks to the actor, it merely comes across as one of his character’s traits rather than his sole identity. The same goes for Ralph Fiennes as “the boss.” Of course, he is menacing, but he also has some very specific morals and appears to be a great father.

3. Ralph Fiennes: While he has given some very delicate and complex performances over the years, Fiennes can run, shall we say, to the hammy side? Chewing the scenery around him like a virtual five-course meal with rolling eyes and teeth-clenching intensity, he is often much too much. However, Fiennes seems to use a newly developed sense of self-awareness because he takes those excessive traits and uses them to fill in his character. Almost every line is a punch line. A genius at comic timing, it is refreshing to see his farcical talents.

4. The Best Set In The World: Bruges, Belgium is breathtaking and as one of the actors proclaims in one of the DVD’s many hilarious documentaries, “It looks like someone built it specifically for this movie, only it happens to date back to the 1100s.” There is character, beauty, and a sense of the supernatural in each and every shot. They really dodged the bullet by not having to film in Ireland, didn’t they?

5. Homage To Classic Cinema: References to Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, as well as Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil abound, plus a nod to Harold Pinter’s play, The Dumb Waiter. These are more than a wink-wink/nudge-nudge to the audience, though, as the film builds upon those references in a way that informs the characters’ actions, thoughts, and feelings.

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4 Responses to “Ten Reasons Why You Should See In Bruges

  1. Bixa Orellana:
    February 1st, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you for this review! This was a great movie, and you did it justice on every level. You perfectly achieved that delicate balance of telling just enough of what it’s about to catch the reader’s interest, but gave away none of the plot without being coy about it. Best of all, it was in-depth in a way that is truly satisfying to read after one has seen the movie, but equally well prepares the viewer for something more than popcorn night.
    I just discovered popshifter, and will definitely be on the lookout for more of your reviews. Thanks again.

  2. Popshifter:
    February 4th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    This movie just got moved up to the top of my queue! I am very curious to see how you will react to the upcoming “Perrier’s Bounty” with Brendan Gleeson (who I will see in ANYTHING) and Cillian Murphy as they seem to have very similar themes.

    I would also like to reiterate your point about Colin Farrell being a great actor. When he has a good part, with dialogue and direction to match, he truly is dazzling.


  3. Popshifter:
    February 4th, 2010 at 10:17 am

    And thank you Bixa for the kind words!


  4. Popshifter:
    February 16th, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Michelle, I just watched this last night and it was absolutely brutal!

    I cannot understand why “Perrier’s Bounty” keeps getting slammed for being a lesser version of “In Bruges” as the two movies couldn’t be more different in tone, texture, style, etc.

    If he wasn’t in the Top Five Fave Actors list before, Brendan Gleeson certainly is now.

    Fantastic movie!


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