MOVIE OF THE WEEK: "In Bruges"
Martin McDonagh has been getting more exposure than usual since his film “Two Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has been burning up the awards season with major wins at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. And now “Two Billboards” is nominated for a best picture Oscar. The native Londoner has already won an Oscar for his 2006 for his short film “Six Shooter,” and he was nominated for writing the original screenplay for the film I’m recommending this week – “In Bruges.”
“In Bruges,” both a black comedy and a crime thriller, didn’t get the attention it warranted when released in 2008. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are Irish hit men for London gangster Ralph Fiennes. Gleeson, a seasoned pro, is a kind of mentor to the recently hired Farrell. After Farrell botches his first job in a poignantly tragic way, Fiennes sends him and Gleeson to the quaint, medieval town of Bruges, Belgium, to lay low. Although Gleeson slowly warms to the place, neither hit man is happy about being in Bruges, and the fact that they are stuck in Bruges becomes an ongoing joke throughout the movie.
They spend their time waiting for Fiennes to call and tell them to come home, sightseeing and mixing with the locals. Farrell is also brooding over his mistake back in London, but he finds some joy – and more than a little trouble – in the company of a young woman played by Clémence Poésy.
“In Bruges” has an offbeat and endearing story carried by the strong character work by Gleeson, Farrell and Fiennes. Farrell is volatile but also charming and touchingly grief-stricken. Gleeson is a wiser, calming influence trying to keep the boy from going off the deep end. And Fiennes is hysterical as the hot-headed, tyrannical mob boss determined to enforce his own twisted brand of justice. Their shenanigans in Bruges lead to one of the most memorable endings of any movie of the 2000s.
“In Bruges” is a fun, irreverent film with humor, action, a little romance and real pathos. If you saw “Three Billboards” and want more of writer-director Martin McDonagh, “In Bruges” is an excellent place to start. If you’ve never even heard of McDonagh and just want a highly entertaining movie to enjoy, “In Bruges” is still the way to go.