Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Martin McDonagh|
|Written by||Martin McDonagh|
|Music by||Carter Burwell|
|Edited by||Jon Gregory|
|Box office||$34.5 million|
In Bruges is a 2008 British-American neo-noir black comedy crime drama 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 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 and opened on limited release in the United States on 8 February 2008. The film garnered a cult status for its dark humor and dialogues.
The film earned Farrell the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, while Gleeson was nominated for the same. McDonagh won the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Carrying out orders to execute a priest, rookie hitman Ray also accidentally kills a young boy. He and his mentor Ken are sent to Bruges, where they are to await further instructions, by their employer Harry. Ken finds the city charming and quaint, while Ray has nothing but contempt for it.
One night, Ken indulges Ray's desire to get out of their hotel room, and they explore the city. They chance upon a film shoot involving a dwarf actor, which amuses Ray. Ray approaches Chloë, a local drug dealer moonlighting as a production assistant. He takes her to a fancy restaurant, where he gets into an argument with a couple and ends up knocking them unconscious. Chloë takes Ray to her apartment, but her ex-boyfriend Eirik suddenly appears and threatens Ray with a handgun. Ray disarms him, and fires the gun (which is loaded with blanks) in his face, blinding one of his eyes. Chloë shamefully admits that she and Eirik occasionally rob tourists after she seduces them, insisting she'd told Eirik that Ray was not a target. Ray also becomes acquainted with the dwarf actor, Jimmy, who turns out to be a drug-abusing racist.
Harry calls Ken and orders him to kill Ray, on the principle that the killing of a child—even accidentally—is unforgivable. With a handgun supplied by Harry's local contact Yuri, Ken tracks Ray to a park and reluctantly prepares to kill him. However, Ray, distraught at his killing of the boy, prepares to kill himself with Eirik's loaded gun. Seeing this, Ken stops Ray, informs him of Harry's order, and tells him to leave Bruges to make a new start elsewhere. Ken reports back to Harry, who immediately sets out for Bruges, enraged at the disobedience. He picks up a gun at Yuri's, and Eirik, Yuri's son, learns of his intention.
On the train, Ray is identified by the couple he assaulted 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's belfry. Ken and Harry also meet for a drink nearby, then climb to the top of the carillon tower, where Ken argues that Ray deserves a chance at redemption. Seeing Ray at the square, Eirik climbs up the tower to inform Harry. Ken attempts to stop Harry, but is mortally wounded. He drags himself back to the top of the tower, then leaps down. Ray rushes to Ken's mangled body and learns of Harry's arrival.
After a long chase, Harry wounds Ray with a single shot from a distance. Ray staggers onto the street where Jimmy's film is shooting. Harry catches up and shoots Ray repeatedly until he collapses. One of the bullets hits Jimmy (costumed as a schoolboy), blowing his head apart. Harry, believing he has killed a child, kills himself on principle. Gravely wounded, Ray is lifted into an ambulance, with Chloë and the hotel owner Marie at his side. He internally reflects upon the nature of hell, comparing it to the city of Bruges, and prays that he doesn't die. His ultimate fate is left unknown.
- Colin Farrell as Ray, an Irish hitman wracked with guilt from his first assignment
- Brendan Gleeson as Ken Daley, an older and more experienced Irish hitman
- Ralph Fiennes as Harry Waters, a violent English 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
- Anna Madeley as Denise, a Dutch prostitute picked up by Jimmy
- Elizabeth Berrington as Natalie Waters, Harry's wife
- Eric Godon as Yuri, Harry's Belgian contact who sells illegal weaponry
- Željko Ivanek as a Canadian man Ray hits for offending Chloë
- Ciaran Hinds as the priest (uncredited)
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 book Ken is reading in the hotel room is "The Death of Capone" by K. K. Katurian, the main character in McDonagh's play The Pillowman.
Likewise, the scene where Ken is instructed to kill Ray was shot in a single, unbroken take, in a nod to the 3-minute single-take opening of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, which can be seen playing on a TV in the background.
|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|
|24.||"2000 Miles"||The Pretenders||3:38|
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.
In Bruges received very positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 84%, based on 185 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The critical consensus reads: "Featuring witty dialogue and deft performances, In Bruges is an effective mix of dark comedy and crime thriller elements." Metacritic gives the film an average score of 67 out of 100, based on 34 critics, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".
Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars, 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 the 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.
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.
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