Requiem For a Film: Dark and Witty with profanities galore, “In Bruges” has us laughing and thinking at the same time
Martin McDonagh’s second directorial (and writing) outing creates a dark, thought provoking yet utterly hilarious world ripe for rewatching. Not for everyone, this film boasts an incredibly dark and dry sense of humour featuring many jokes at the expense of dwarfs, whores and Bruges itself. Complementing this obscene humour are two main characters, both hitmen, both absurdly foul-mouthed, and equally imperfect.
An alternate take on the creatively exhausted “British Gangster” genre, In Bruges feels like a breath of fresh air in a genre grown stale through lack of innovation or risk. Whilst the story of two Irish hitmen sent to Bruges to hide out after a job gone wrong, sounds like a fairly thin and straightforward plot, the character drama, plot twists and surprisingly deep themes differentiate this film from others like it. It is in this area that Martin McDonagh really shines. His roots in theatre, where dialogue and actions create character over other devices, clearly influences the structure of this film, making for a strange experience for those foreign to stage plays.
Both Collin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson seem to be having one hell of a time and do a damn good job while they’re at it, spouting profanities at an absurd rate. Their respective characters in the form of a conflicted and childish Ray (Collin Farrell), and the father-like figure of Ken (Brendan Gleeson), are ones with whom you’ll grow to love, despite their numerous flaws, not least of which being contract killers. Surprisingly, not one of the prominent characters in this film truly justifies our sympathy, conflicting with other typical Hollywood products. This, however, makes the characters work for our acceptance, showing different sides of each, with even the films love interest being deceitful and in a questionable business. Hell, even the film’s starring dwarf, or as Ray puts it, “midget”, Jimmy (Jordan Prentice), is an imperfect and, in an interesting twist, racist character.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of In Bruges is its ability to provoke thought, despite its humorous notes throughout, and will likely leave its audience with a few lasting ideas ripe for discussion and consideration.
While this film will not work for everyone, with its excessive gore, blatant drug use, crude sense of humour, dark themes and slow pacing, turning many critics and casual movie-goers away, it offers a different experience to the common Hollywood release. Ultimately, for those willing to take the time, this film can offer a very different feeling than your by-the-books comedy, and if the humour doesn’t resonate, the desire to visit Bruges will almost certainly shine through.