In Bruges Review
In Bruges throws you straight into the story of a job that’s gone awry. Two hitmen Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) are sent to Bruges by their boss Harry (Fiennes) and told to stay there and await further instructions. While Ken finds himself enamoured with the picturesque city, Ray finds only boredom, wishing he was anywhere but there. When the call finally comes with the instructions from Harry, it is Ken that is left wishing he was elsewhere.
I had circled round In Bruges for so many years. It was one of those films that I had always heard good things about, but nothing about it on the surface of things made me want to watch. I was even in two minds about reviewing it; another crime drama with quirky characters or at least this is what the poster seemed to suggest to me. Almost immediately, I got wrapped up in the charm of the script by Martin McDonagh, albeit littered with strong language throughout, and the plight of the main characters and their time in hell, sorry Bruges. The film is wryly funny, but also has a melancholic feel to it, you know almost from the outset that things aren't going to go any of these characters’ ways.
Bruges - despite Ray's misgivings - is certainly an integral part of the storytelling, and its lovely when this happens, that a city is a character in itself. You really feel transported to the city and learn to like or loathe it along with the characters themselves, it makes me want to visit... for the most part.
The story of these two hitmen lying low in Bruges after a hit goes wrong certainly hits the ground running, and Farrell and Gleeson - like foul mouthed versions of Laurel and Hardy - make an engaging pair. Fiennes, who comes into the story pretty late on, makes a fine villain, if a little bit pantomime but it is clear with this, and his Gustave H. in The Grand Budapest Hotel, that Fiennes should really do more comedy, as he is great with it.
Chloe (Clémence Poésy) is alluring as Ray’s love interest and between them all - main and the supporting cast of characters, you really have the makings of a gem of a movie. One which I admittedly slept on for far too long, and one that I will happily revisit. I encourage others who may have been put off by the poster, the title, or the perceived 'another gangster movie' tag some believe it has been wearing for the past ten years.
Second Sight's new disc isn't quite the upgrade this film deserves, but it’s still pretty good. The book (unavailable for review) sounds like a great extra, the others listed below are mainly interview based, along with an early McDonagh Oscar winning short, Six Shooter, starring Gleeson, along with son Domhnall Gleeson, which is very good.
Most of the interviews are new, but the making of, the trip round Bruges, the outtakes, and deleted scenes have been seen before on the previous Blu-ray release, and are fairly dry. The picture quality on this release is crisp and clean, with its muted colour scheme, but I don't believe it is a new scan. The sound is pretty robust, but is very front heavy - which makes sense for a dialogue driven film.
I liked In Bruges very much. Is it a classic? Almost.
With new artwork by Thomas Walker, who also designed the cover for the Faber and Faber screenplay included with the release, In Bruges comes with the following special features.
- Six Shooter – Martin McDonagh’s Oscar Winning Short Film in HD
- Shoot First, Sightsee Later – interview with director of photography Eigil Bryld
- Finding the Rhythm – interview with editor Jon Gregory
- Finding Bruges – interview with production designer Michael Carlin
- The Alcove Guy – interview with actor Eric Godon
- When in Bruges – interviews with cast and crew and on-set footage
- Strange Bruges – interviews with cast and crew and on-set footage
- Deleted scenes
- Boat Trip Around Bruges
- Gag reel
Limited Edition contents:
- Rigid slipcase featuring new artwork by Thomas Walker
- Faber and Faber screenplay with exclusive cover artwork by Thomas Walker
- 50-page soft cover book with new writing by Ian Christie, Dr. Eamonn Jordan (author of Leenane to LA: The Theatre and Cinema of Martin McDonagh) and Bomb Magazine archive From interview with Martin McDonagh