ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Entertainment and Media»
  • Movies & Movie Reviews

In Bruges: Fairytale town or hell?

Updated on December 8, 2013
Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) © Film4 Productions/Focus Features
Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) © Film4 Productions/Focus Features

Bruges is a European city in Belgium known for its historic center and its Venice-like canals. I've never been there, so it's up to those that have been to answer the titular question. And that's the symbolic question that lies within the subtext of Martin McDonagh's film, In Bruges, where every character perceives the city in a different way.

Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) © Film4 Productions/Focus Features
Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) © Film4 Productions/Focus Features

The film follows a duo of hitmen: veteran Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and rookie Ray (Colin Farrell). After Ray's first assignment goes awry (he kills a young child), his boss, Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes), sends them to Bruges, allegedly to lay low. As soon as they arrive, Ray labels the place "a s**thole", but still, they try to enjoy the pleasantries of the city, be it the tourist settings, museums, the women, drugs, etc. However, the next day, Ken receives a call from Harry in which he instructs him to get rid of Ray. This leads him to question his loyalty to his boss, or his friendship to Ray.

Although the film is clearly a black comedy with its off-the-wall, quirky nature, at times it veers closely to more dramatic territory, particularly in its symbolism about the nature of the city of Bruges, and how the characters perceive it. The city takes such a forefront presence in the film that it even feels like its own character at times. From the minute they arrive, Ken loves the place and enjoys riding the canals, visiting museums, or sitting in parks. His boss, Harry, later tells Ken that he sent them to Bruges because he remembered the place from his childhood, and how it was like a fairytale.That's the reason why he sent them there, because he wanted Ray's last days to be at a beautiful place.

Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) © Film4 Productions/Focus Features
Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) © Film4 Productions/Focus Features

However, Ray considers the place "a s**thole", and is unable to see the beauties that his partner sees. The guilt of his crime makes him feel like he's been taken to Purgatory or Hell, and he suffers like so. His rationalization is strengthened by the bizarre characters he meets in the way: a dwarf, a drug dealer, a thief, a gun dealer... a couple of Canadians. Regardless of how each character perceives it, the city becomes a place of retribution for each of them, as all of them are forced to face their sins and atone for them with their actions.

In the end, it's up to us to answer the question about Bruges. Is this place the fairytale setting that Ken says it is, or that his boss remembers? or is it the hell, or the Purgatory Ray is sent to as punishment for his crime? Whether it's Ken, Ray, or Harry, each of them ends up seeing the place in different lights for different purposes.

Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Harry (Ralph Fiennes) © Film4 Productions/Focus Features
Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Harry (Ralph Fiennes) © Film4 Productions/Focus Features
 
In Bruges
Release date
February 8, 2008
Director
Martin McDonagh
Writers
Martin McDonagh
Starring
Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes
Duration
107 minutes
Budget
$15,000,000
Box office
$33,394,440

Overall, the film was entertaining enough, even though the first half had an awkward, sorta bumbling pace. The random dialogues between Ken and Ray felt at times like the writer was pushing too hard for a Pulp Fiction-like vibe. Also, the performance of Farrell didn't help. I've seen him doing much better work (Tigerland, Minority Report, Phone Booth) but his performance here wasn't that great. Particularly in an important scene where he breaks down crying due to the guilt of what he did. Gleeson, on the other hand, was solid as usual. The second half of the film did kicked it up a notch, the pace felt more settled and more assured than it did at first. And the addition of Fiennes in that act didn't hurt the film either.

To sum it up, the film was good, but it could've been better had it had a more assured pace in its first half, and a better performance from Farrell. Grade: B

 
Grades
RottenTomatoes
82%
IMDb
7.9 /10
Thief12
B

Have you been to Bruges? How would you describe it?

See results

In Bruges Official Trailer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)