Posted by: Paul | September 5, 2010

In Bruges

‘Purgatory? That’s the in-between one, isn’t it? Where you’re not really shit, but you’re not that great either. Like Tottenham.’

I’d been meaning to catch up with this dark comedy for a while, I had heard good things about it on release but you know what it’s like, so many movies, so little time…

Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell play two Irish hitmen, sent to hide out in the titular Belgian city after Farrell botches his first job in London. They are to wait there for two weeks until their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes) contacts them with further instructions. In the meantime, their differing approaches to life and enjoyment of it conspire to ruin what should be ‘a nice little holiday’, as Gleeson slows down and soaks in the culture while Farrell seeks more vicarious thrills involving a beautiful drug dealer and, of all things, a racist dwarf.

I don’t suppose it’s much of a mighty claim, but this is the best thing Colin Farrell has ever done. I don’t really mean to damn either him or the movie with faint praise, but he really is exceptional in this. Veering from brutal to childishly naive to very vulnerable indeed, his range as hapless would-be hitman Ray is extraordinary. Gleeson and Fiennes are also very good, and it’s interesting that they also appear together in one of the Harry Potter movies. Fiennes also appears to have concentrated his recent career on playing villains – a latter-day Alan Rickman, perhaps?

A great script from writer-director Martin McDonagh features some great wisecracks from both the main characters, and the side story with irascible dwarf actor Jimmy is very funny indeed. It hardly moves along at a rollicking pace but there’s a very entertaining couple of hours to be had here, and it all ends in a satisfyingly poignant mess.

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