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In Bruges (2008) Dir Martin McDonagh. Vue Cinema, Hull

When a contract killing in London becomes a botch job, the two Irish hit men are sent to hide out in Bruges. What could possibly go wrong?


Quite a lot it seems, as Ray (Colin Farrell) and his mentor Ken (Brendan Gleeson) have dramatically different views on what constitutes such things as “lying low” and “having a good time”, consequently mayhem ensues, and when the Big Boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes), a major league psychopath decides to go on the rampage things go from bad to worse.


Genre? Black gangster comedy? I am not sure as the subject matter is truly grim involving the accidental slaying of a child, guilt, betrayal and suicide but the gags just keep on coming and not in a staged comedy way. They ebb and flow as an integral part of the plot and some of the dialogue and situations are just laugh out loud funny.


Bathos, I think is the term that sums up much of In Bruges best and I thought that it was a tremendous picture with a strong ensemble cast, but Ralph Fiennes is an absolute show stealer in the final third of the film.


If William Hurt deserved to win the Best Supporting Actor for a History of Violence, then Fiennes must be a shoe in as it is a difficult balance to strike between caricature and impact when you have so little time to develop the character.


Ben Kingsley provides the template in Sexy Beast, and Fiennes delivers the same sort of performance as the mentally unhinged and ruthless gangster. Blistering and energetic but without losing the context or side lining the main cast.  


When Ray gets mixed up with a Belgian film hand, a “midget” (“Did you often feel like topping yourself, you know, what with the height thing an’ all?”) and a stash of drugs the action really begins after a necessarily sedentary opening to the film.


Writer Martin McDonagh must be an Arsenal fan as he has Ray and Ken discussing purgatory thus;


“It’s when you are a bit shit, not that good but not that bad”.


“Like Spurs then?”


“Well, yeah.”


 I enjoyed this film a lot, and it’s the sort of picture that when you ruminate on it a bit more at home, you find it was actually quite existential behind the jokes and shootings.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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