Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Martin McDonagh|
|Written by||Martin McDonagh|
|Music by||Carter Burwell|
|Edited by||Jon Gregory|
|Running time||107 minutes|
In Bruges is a 2008 dark comedy film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. The film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two Irish hitmen in hiding, with Ralph Fiennes as their gangster boss. The film takes place—and was filmed—in the Belgian city of Bruges.
In Bruges was the opening night film of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The film opened on limited release in the United States on 8 February 2008. It premiered at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival on 15 February 2008, and later went on full release in Ireland on 8 March 2008. The film opened 18 April 2008, in the United Kingdom. Upon its release the film garnered a cult status for its dark humor and dialogues.
During one of his jobs, rookie hitman Ray (Farrell) accidentally kills a young boy. He and his partner Ken (Gleeson) are sent to Bruges by their employer Harry Waters (Fiennes), to wait until they receive further instructions.
Ken finds the city charming and quaint, while Ray expresses constant boredom and chafes at the idea that he is not allowed to leave the city. Much of the story involves Ray searching for things to do in Bruges while Ken urges him to remain patient and diligent as they wait for Harry to call. One night, while observing a film shoot, Ray strikes up a romance with Chloë, a local drug dealer and thief moonlighting as a production assistant. On a date in a fancy restaurant, Ray gets involved in a fistfight with a couple who he believes are from the United States. Later, after they return to her apartment, Chloë's ex-boyfriend Eirik suddenly appears and brandishes a handgun loaded with blanks. But Ray disarms and blinds him by discharging the gun in his face.
Ken finally receives a call from Harry, who orders him to kill Ray on the principle that the killing of a child—even accidentally—is unforgivable. Harry claims that he sent the pair to Bruges because he loved the city as a boy and wanted to give Ray one last beautiful memory in his final days. Ken is given a handgun by Yuri, Harry's Bruges contact, and tracks Ray to a park. As he sneaks up behind Ray, he notices Ray is about to shoot himself and stops him. He then confesses to Ray what he'd been ordered to do (although Ken denies that he intended to go through with the execution). Ray urges Ken to kill him anyway, expressing profound guilt for shooting the boy and wanting to die. While the two discuss the situation, Ken takes Ray's gun and convinces him to leave the city (and the business) and start fresh somewhere far away. Ken then calls Harry, revealing his disobedience and Ray's flight from Bruges, and abruptly hangs up. An enraged Harry immediately heads to Bruges to deal with Ken.
Not long after boarding the train, Ray is arrested for assaulting the couple in the restaurant and is escorted back to Bruges. Chloë bails him out, and the two share a drink on the market square beneath Bruges' belfry. Ken and Harry also meet for a drink nearby, passing by Ray and Chloë without noticing them. At the top of the carillon tower, Ken declares that Ray deserves a chance at redemption, but refuses to fight Harry, as he loves and respects him for his honour and generosity. Soon after, Eirik passes through the square and spots Ray and Chloë by chance, rushing up the tower to inform Harry of Ray's location. Ken fights Harry for Ray's sake, but is shot in the neck. Harry descends the steps to confront Ray, leaving Ken fatally wounded. Ken drags himself back to the top of the carillon tower, but cannot see anything below due to fog. After scattering coins to clear the area below, he jumps and lands in the plaza, living just long enough to warn Ray of Harry's arrival.
Harry pursues Ray through the city. Ray flees back to the hotel for his gun, but loses it soon after, when he jumps into the river, and Harry shoots him in the abdomen. The two stumble onto a film set, where Harry shoots Ray three more times. In the process, however, he inadvertently shoots a dwarf actor in the head with the expanding ammunition, effectively decapitating him. Mistaking the dwarf's headless body for that of a child, Harry commits suicide on his principle. The gravely wounded Ray is lifted onto an ambulance as he sees Marie, Eirik and Chloë. Once in the ambulance, Ray considers prison or death as sufficient recompense for killing the boy, but then muses that, perhaps for him, hell consists of staying in Bruges forever. He states his hope not to die.
- Colin Farrell as Ray, an Irish hitman wracked with guilt from his first assignment
- Brendan Gleeson as Ken, an older and more experienced Irish hitman
- Ralph Fiennes as Harry Waters, a violent crime boss with unbending principles
- Clémence Poésy as Chloë Villette, a Belgian criminal and production assistant who is also a drug-dealer
- Jordan Prentice as Jimmy, an American drug-addicted dwarf actor
- Thekla Reuten as Marie, co-owner and operator of the hotel
- Jérémie Renier as Eirik, Chloë's ex-boyfriend and ex-partner in crime
- Željko Ivanek as a Canadian man Ray hits for offending Chloë
- Anna Madeley as Denise, a Dutch prostitute picked up by Jimmy
- Elizabeth Berrington as Natalie, Harry's wife
- Eric Godon as Yuri, Harry's Belgian contact who sells illegal weaponry
Sights of Bruges
At one point, Ken and Ray visit the Groeningemuseum and see Hieronymus Bosch's painting The Last Judgment. Actors in the "film-within-a-film" wear costumes resembling elements of the painting, creating a symbolism of Bruges as heaven, purgatory, and/or hell.
The plot has similarities to Harold Pinter's one-act play The Dumb Waiter. When checking into the hotel Ray and Ken use the names Cranham and Blakely, a reference to Kenneth Cranham and Colin Blakely who played the hitmen in the BBC version of Pinter's play. The film also contains many references to Don't Look Now, including the claim by Chloë that the film-within-a-film is almost an hommage to it.
The scene where Ken is instructed to kill Ray was shot in a single unbroken take, as a homage to the 3-minute single take opening in Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, which can be seen playing on a TV in the background.
The film was released on DVD in region 1 on 24 June 2008; region 2 on 11 August 2008; and region 4 on 21 January 2009. It was also released on Blu-ray on 27 January 2009; and in region 1 on 13 July 2010.
|In Bruges: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Carter Burwell|
|Released||5 February 2008|
|Carter Burwell chronology|
In Bruges: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is a soundtrack to the film of the same name, released by Lakeshore Records and featuring the score of Carter Burwell as well as additional music found in the film. The soundtrack was released on 5 February 2008 in the United States and Canada.
All music composed by Carter Burwell, except where noted.
|3.||"The Little Dead Boy"||1:46|
|4.||"St. John the Gambler"||Townes Van Zandt||3:03|
|5.||"The Last Judgement"||1:52|
|6.||"View from the Tower"||1:04|
|7.||"My Suicide Your Homicide"||1:38|
|8.||"Brandy Alexander"||The Walkmen||2:30|
|9.||"Save the Next Boy"||1:19|
|10.||"Ray at the Mirror"||1:19|
|12.||"The Magic Frog"||0:50|
|13.||"Der Leiermann"||Andreas Schmidt and Rudolf Jansen||3:40|
|15.||"Dressing for Death"||1:11|
|16.||"The Kiss Walk Past"||1:04|
|17.||"On Raglan Road"||The Dubliners||4:15|
|18.||"Thugs Passing in the Night"||1:13|
|19.||"Shootout Part 1"||2:10|
|20.||"When He's Dead"||1:08|
|21.||"Shootout Part 2"||2:44|
|23.||"I Didn't Want to Die"||1:35|
In Bruges was released in limited theatres on 8 February 2008, and opened in 28 theatres in the United States, grossing $125,541 on its opening day and $459,575 on its opening weekend, ranking No. 25 with a per theatre average of $16,413. On its second weekend, it was released in 112 theatres and moved up to No. 22 and grossed $970,211, with a per theatre average of $8,663. By its third weekend it moved up even more to No. 21 and made $738,318 from 163 theatres it was released, with $4,530 per theatre average.
The film received mostly positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 82% based on 160 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. Metacritic gives the film an average score of 67, based on 34 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".
Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film a four-out-of-four-stars rating, saying "This film debut by the theater writer and director Martin McDonagh is an endlessly surprising, very dark, human comedy, with a plot that cannot be foreseen but only relished." Tasha Robinson of The A.V. Club gave the film an "A-", praising the performances of the main cast: "Farrell, having successfully made the transition from overexposed-yet-underutilized action-thriller star to one-film-a-year artiste, gets a lot to work with, and he sells it all flawlessly, moving convincingly from offhanded, prickly asshole mode to nervous young lover to disintegrating martyr," and that "then again, all the leads are perfectly cast, and they help turn a light farce with thriller overtones into something deeper and sweeter." About the film itself, she added: "When it's funny, it's hilarious; when it's serious, it's powerful; and either way, it's an endless pleasant surprise." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and praised the two leads, stating that "Brendan Gleeson is brilliant as Ken ... along with his partner in crime, Ray, played by Colin Farrell in probably his best performance." About the film, she added that it's "sharply written, superbly acted, funny and even occasionally touching." Damon Wise of Empire magazine gave the film four out of five stars, writing that "with In Bruges, the British gangster movie gets a Croydon facelift. It may not be new, but it's a wonderfully fresh take on a familiar genre: fucked-up, far-out and very, very funny."
John Anderson of the Washington Post gave the film a positive review, writing that "those who know McDonagh's work know a vein of darkness will run deeply through the comedy. It has seldom been darker. Or funnier. He has made a hit-man movie in which you don't know what will happen and can't wait to find out. Every movie should be so cliched." Mick LaSalle of San Francisco Chronicle also gave the film a positive review; he praised Farrell's performance, stating that "in the past few months, with Cassandra's Dream and now this, we've found out something about Farrell. He's not a matinee idol, and he's not a suave or heroic leading man. He's a terrific character actor, and he can go to low places that suave heroes can't risk, like anguish, self-hatred, embarrassment, utter confusion and buffoonery." About the film, he added that it's "witty and lively, with a soul to it, as well." Dana Stevens of Slate magazine also praised the performances of the two leads: "Farrell, who just played a remarkably similar tortured killer for hire in Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, finds just the right tone for this twitchy, funny, emotionally volatile thug; for once, he seems to know exactly what movie he's in. So does Brendan Gleeson, the big, shambling, sad-eyed Irish actor known to American audiences mainly for his role in the last two Harry Potter movies." She continued about the film: "A jolly mess of a movie. Overplotted, choppy, and contrived, it nonetheless has a curious vitality that makes you wonder where McDonagh will go next." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, writing that "the acting is top-notch. Colin Farrell, who seems to be gravitating increasingly toward smaller films, effectively channels his manic energy. He and Brendan Gleeson display chemistry in the Odd Couple vein, occasionally giving rise to instances of humor. Ralph Fiennes plays one of the most twisted roles of his career."
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C+", indicating a mixed review; she praised McDonagh's directing, stating that "he's a specialist in constructing satisfying, live-wire dramas of violence that crash up against despair, in upending his characters' miseries with moments of twisted humor, and in sustaining a writing voice that roars with a particularly Irish robustness of obscenity." She also added that "neither star is sloppy, but both are loose and mellow – a couple of pros who know they're the whole show." Ella Taylor of Village Voice also gave the film a mixed review, stating that "Bruges may be the movie's rather too-long-running joke, but Farrell's shaggy brow is easily the most entertaining thing in Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's first foray into the crime caper."
In Bruges was nominated for seven awards by the British Independent Film Awards, including the Douglas Hickox Award (Debut Director), Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film and Best Screenplay, the latter of which it won. It was also nominated for two Satellite Awards: for Best Actor (Brendan Gleeson) and Best Film.
In November 2008, Martin McDonagh won the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild (IPSG) award for Best Film Script for the film.
The film was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and both Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell were nominated for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, which Farrell won at the 66th Golden Globe Awards ceremony, broadcast on 11 January 2009. McDonagh won the Best Original Screenplay award at the 62nd British Academy Film Awards in February 2009.
The film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay award at the 81st Academy Awards in 2009, but lost to Milk. In the same year, it won the Best International Film award at the 6th Irish Film & Television Awards.
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