In Bruges Martin McDonagh

In Bruges Martin McDonagh
The trailer for In Bruges, with its Guy Ritchie hard sell, gave a somewhat distorted picture of the movie. Certainly, the film has its share of gunplay, nutty plot twists and reversals, and profane wisecracks but first-time writer/director McDonagh, also an award-winning playwright, has an endearingly sentimental streak and more importantly, a humanist’s regard for character that separates him from the British gangster pack. The plot concerns two Irish hit men in hiding in the eponymous Belgian city after a botched job. Ken, the older, philosophical one (Brendan Gleeson), is taken with the town and its status as the best-preserved medieval city in Belgium. Ray (Colin Farrell), the younger, fidgety one, regards the place as a "shit hole.” Their comic byplay is disrupted by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes), who, having dispatched them to Bruges, contacts them with something additional in mind. For all the mayhem that ensues, McDonagh has a lot of time for his actors. Gleeson again proves his stature as one of the most solid and dependable character players in the business, with a pitch-perfect performance marked by impeccable shades of melancholy. Less assured but still terrific is Fiennes, who adds an intriguing, subtly vampiric cast to his uncharacteristic turn as an East End hard man. The real surprise here though is Farrell, who one would feel justified in dismissing outright after his embarrassing take on Sonny Crockett in the big-screen Miami Vice. Here, Farrell’s moony air of self-regard seems in character. He finds just the right tone of boyish petulance in his early scenes stranded in Bruges but when our perception of the character has to change after we discover the terrible secret consuming him, he brings it off. And Mcdonagh seems like a filmmaker to watch. Extras include nice featurettes on the city of Bruges and the making of the film, and an utterly pointless montage of the movie’s swearwords, which are, needless to say, numerous. (Alliance)