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In Bruges
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2½ Stars - Fair
Average Rating
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Mpaa Rating
R (for language and graphic bloody violence)
Directed By
Martin McDonagh
Run Time
1 hour 47 minutes
Elizabeth Berrington, Rudy Blomme, Olivier Bonjour, Mark Donovan
Theatre Release
February 29, 2008 by Focus Features

In Bruges is a hard movie to describe. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, Bruges might be called a neo-noir crime comedy, or a postmodern Shakespearean tragedy, or even a medieval morality tale. It looks and feels like a lot of things, but at the end of the day Bruges is about crime, punishment, and spiritual descent.

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are Ray and Ken—an unlikely pair of Irish hitmen sent by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) to hide out in Bruges (pronounced "brooze"), Belgium. They are working-class mobsters: principled yet bumbling, efficient yet emotional. And Harry is their Tony Soprano. In Bruges, Ray and Ken are in a state of limbo; their instructions are to wait for further instructions from Harry. While they wait, Ray and Ken pose as tourists: staying at a homey guest house in the old town, taking canal rides through the city, visiting museums and cathedrals, etc.

What might be an otherwise pleasant vacation in an idyllic Flemish town (supposedly the most well-preserved medieval city in Belgium), however, is tainted by the psychological baggage that accompanies the criminal pair. Ray and Ken have just completed a particularly bloody job in London in which the target (a priest) was killed, along with an innocent praying child who caught a stray bullet. Triggerman Ray is paralyzed by guilt from his incidental child homicide, however, and Bruges is the last place he wants to be as he suffers under a dark conscience.

To get Ray's mind on other things, the kind-hearted Ken (the more cultured and professional of the two) insists that Ray accompanies him to the various historical and cultural attractions of Bruges. Here we get our own tour of the beautiful European city, following our protagonists ...

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