Droid defines the decades best movies – #6 In Bruges (2008)

In Bruges poster

Hands up those who have been to Bruges. Anyone? Anyone? Well, I have. It was the second stop on a couple of month boozing holiday around Western Europe, and was sandwiched between the cultural delights of Paris and the grimy debauchery of Amsterdam. And while I didn’t find it to be “like a fairytale”, it was a pretty cool little city, if a bit sleepy. Unfortunately for me, there were no midgets. But there were plenty of fat yanks.

After a hit gone wrong, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) are sent to Bruges, in Belgium, to lay low for a couple of weeks by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes). There they encounter a midget on horse tranquillisers (Jordan Prentice), a hot drug dealing production assistant (Clémence Poésy), douchebag Canadians, and the aforementioned fat yanks. When Ken defies Harry’s order to kill Ray, Harry comes to town to finish the job.

Man, it’s not very easy to summarise the plot without giving anything away.

In Bruges 1 The strength of ‘In Bruges’ is in the writing and the acting. It’s the feature length debut of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, who both wrote and directed. The characters are so sharply written that they immediately seem real, and without any unnecessary exposition it feels like we know all about them. Take Fiennes’ character as an example. He’s only heard on the phone and in a voiceover for at least half the film, but when we finally see Harry, we already know what type of person he is. Both Fiennes and Gleeson are terrific, but we have come to expect that.

In Bruges 2 The big surprise here is Colin Farrell. Farrell is an actor I like, and have since I first saw him in ‘Tigerland’. But he suffered from that Ben Affleck syndrome of doing every movie possible when he became famous, resulting in him appearing in far too many mediocre films and subsequently becoming overexposed. This is by far his best performance. He’s got perfect comic timing, and also shows some serious dramatic chops. It’s the most comfortable and natural performance I’ve seen him give, and I think it’s got to do with the fact that he’s allowed to be Irish. For another example, see the Scrubs episode he’s in. Without the distractions of accent, he’s free to get in to the character. He is certainly aided by the terrific writing, but it’s a wonderful performance nonetheless, and got shamefully overlooked at awards season. As did the whole film, but we don’t much care about such things do we? I’d have showered Farrell with awards just for the look on his face when he and Ken are on the boat. I really can’t talk up his performance enough.

In Bruges 3 McDonagh has also created the greatest scene ever to repeatedly use the word ‘cunt’. It’s so hilarious I had to rewind it and watch it again. It’s a perfectly written scene and Fiennes and Gleeson completely nail it. The thing that elevates the scene is the fact that it’s not just two characters having a go at each other, it’s that these two are obviously long time friends, there’s a lot of history there, and Harry is legitimately hurt by what Ken says to him. Fiennes’ reaction to Ken calling his kids cunts is priceless.

In Bruges 4 There’s also some shocking violence in the film, and the two deaths towards the end are unique in that they are brought about my moral choices that individual characters make. And there’s many pleasures to be found from the details. Ken dropping coins to clear the area below, or the fact that the gun is smashed makes the film that much better. There’s real thought that’s gone into the film, and the thing that sets it apart from the pack is that strict logic is applied to the characters actions. You don’t often see that.

In Bruges 5 ‘In Bruges’ is a very unique film in that it perfectly balances comedy, drama and action. It’s a fish out of water film, a buddy movie and a thriller all rolled into one. And it all works. The writing is about as good as you can get. At first what you think will be a cliché gets slanted in a unique direction. It’s well directed and very pretty to look at. Bruges is a cool little city and the film does it justice. The performances are outstanding from everyone involved. And Farrell karate chops a midget. What more could you want?


The list so far…

#7  – Before Sunset (2004)

#8  – Avatar (2009)

#9  – Requiem for a Dream (2001)

#10 – The Descent (2005)

#11 – Unbreakable (2000)

#12 – Best in Show (2000)

#13 – Open Range (2003)

#14 – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

#15 – Bad Santa (2003)

#16 – The Hurt Locker (2009)

#17 – Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

#18 – Kingdom of Heaven (2005) Directors Cut

#19 – High Fidelity (2000)

#20 – Friday Night Lights (2004)

#21 – Frequency (2000)



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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

24 responses to “Droid defines the decades best movies – #6 In Bruges (2008)”

  1. Jarv says :

    This is a fucking superb film.

  2. Stuntcock Mike says :

    “I don’t hit women. I would never hit a woman, Chloe. I’d hit a woman who was trying to hit me with a bottle. ”

    Fucking Canadians.

    • Droid says :

      “Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.”


      A lot of great lines in this flick.

      • Stuntcock Mike says :

        “That’s for John Lennon. You Yankee fucking cunt”

      • Droid says :

        Ken: We shall strike a balance between culture and fun.
        Ray: Somehow I believe, Ken, that the balance shall tip in the favor of culture, like a big fat fucking retarded fucking black girl on a see-saw opposite a dwarf.

  3. Droid says :

    This is my favourite part of the movie…

    Ken: Harry, let’s face it. And I’m not being funny. I mean no disrespect, but you’re a cunt. You’re a cunt now, and you’ve always been a cunt. And the only thing that’s going to change is that you’re going to be an even bigger cunt. Maybe have some more cunt kids.
    Harry: [furious] Leave my kids fucking out of it! What have they done? You fucking retract that bit about my cunt fucking kids!
    Ken: I retract that bit about your cunt fucking kids.
    Harry: Insult my fucking kids? That’s going overboard, mate!
    Ken: I retracted it, didn’t I?

  4. Barfy says :

    Great choice and write up Droid.

    The scene outside the confessional is etched in my brain. Without words the camera explains so much better than any words. Focusing at first on Ray and then to the recipient of the errant bullet and the outcome.

    Gotta’ get this one out and watch again.

  5. Droid says :

    I also watched the short film that McDonagh did called Six Shooter. It’s also got Gleeson in it and is good. It won the Oscar for Best Short Film as well.

  6. M. Blitz says :

    Just watched this for the first time the other night. Loved it! Wonderful…

  7. lordbronco says :

    Droid-I love this movie as well, for most of the obvious reasons.

    But here’s the rub-I’ve been attempting to watch that obnoxious independent movie “TipToes”-which has dwarves in it. ALOT of them.

    In fact, maybe the one out of In Bruges. The short answer is that movie is so awful, but now I’m getting it mixed up with In bruges-which is just wrong.

    However, I *am* totally buying Gary oldman as a dwarf…*sighs* it was one of those nights.

    Pretty muchly completely off-topic-that response is.

  8. ThereWolf says :

    In Bruges is celluloid magic.

    I liked the reveal – you’re getting into Colin’s character, you really like this guy – then there’s the flashback, he guns down the priest and you see the look of horror on Colin’s face. The camera pulls back and there’s the kid… Awful, awful moment.

    The way this pays off at the end is cunting genius.

    My favourite bit. Dunno. But this is close: “YOU’RE AN INANIMATE FUCKING OBJECT!”

  9. just pillow talk says :

    A brilliant movie. I fucking love it.

    Great scene where Colin was thinking of offing himself.

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