In Bruges: Review

One of these men can’t act. Read on to find out which… (Photo copyright of Focus Features/Film4)

In Bruges sees Ray and Ken, a pair of Irish hitmen hiding out after a botched job. They head to the misspelt Belgian town, and await further instructions from ‘the boss’. There are women, midgets, guns, swearing and more than a few suspect jokes.

In Bruges deliberately aims to be a bit edgy in its humourous sections, but leaves the laughs behind in the process. For a black comedy, there’s precious few real chuckles to counterbalance the violence. The film does feature some good sequences, but they’re fairly sparse. The situation isn’t exactly helped by the equally interesting acting.

Colin Farrell must have dirt on every big player in the film business, as despite his desperate lack of acting chops the man is constantly in work. In Bruges sees him ambling between mumbling inefficacy and a whole new kind of bad acting that’s so cutting-edge it needs explaining – I call it “over-under-acting”, the art of trying to appear subdued and somber but wildly gesticulating with both your face and arms.

Worst of all, Farrell’s bad appears to be contagious, as Ralph Fiennes’ appearance as a ‘mobstah’ sees the normally dependable actor veer between Mockney cliche and some kind of bizarre serpent impersonation. Peace be upon Brendan Gleeson then, whose measured and brooding performance as old time hitman Ken keeps the human action grounded and watchable.

No such problems in the background though, as Brugge itself outacts both Farrell and Fiennes. The cinematography is great, and there are a number of cracking atmospheric shots of nice medieval churches and the like. A big part of In Bruges‘ problem lies here though. It’s a hodge-podge of styles and situations; it flits between high art and low-brow comedy, it shows you a nice tracking shot of a Belgian town square and then makes a joke about racist midgets.

In Bruges gets lost trying to be different, and forgets to be any good.


In Bruges is out in cinemas on April 18. Certificate 18, obviously. It has midgets and death.

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