June 29, 2008

inbruges“You got to stick to your principles.”

The debut film from Irish playwright Martin McDonagh was mis-marketed in this country as a wacky farce about two hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brenden Gleeson) hiding out in Bruges, a picturesque town in Belgium. While the movie is often hilariously funny throughout, it’s also a serious minded meditation on guilt and the possibilities, or lack thereof, for redemption for the choices we make that unexpectedly yield seemingly unforgivable results. The movie is highlighted by excellent acting by the leads, with Farrell once again proving what a versatile actor he is playing Ray, an impulsive, child-like man wracked by guilt, and Gleeson being simply masterful as Farrell’s mentor Ken; Gleeson is able to communicate so much with simple gestures and subtle changes in his voice. Ralph Fiennes is also good as their boss, Harry, and Thekla Reuten, Clémence Poésy and Jordan Prentice are also memorable in supporting roles. “It’s a fairytale town, isn’t it?,” Harry says to Ken, talking about Bruges, and the Belgium town, which McDonagh has lovingly shot, is used to great effect, by turns stunningly beautiful, then eerie and threatening, like the Hieronymus Bosch painting Ray and Ken come across early in the movie. In Bruges will not be to all viewer’s tastes, as it’s profane and given to explosions of shocking violence, but for those viewers who can look past those surface things, they will find an intelligent, provocative and often profoundly moving work of art, and one of the best movies so far this year.


(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)


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