Film: 'In Bruges'; Cast: Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson,; Director: Martin McDonagh; Rating: ****
Very few movies can pull off a mix of dark comedy, action and grand themes. However, Martin McDonagh pulls off this potent mix of styles and blends them to create the very fine 'In Bruges', which he has not only directed but also written.
The brilliant script has two formidable actors in the form of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson fleshing out the characters. Gleeson plays an older more mature father figure to Farrell. They are both hit men who have been sent to Bruges, Belgium to lay low till further instructions.
Gleeson's character Ken enjoys soaking in the culture and antiquity of Bruges, which apparently is 'the most well-preserved medieval city in Belgium'. Farrell's character Ray is more restless and antsy. Ray also has to deal with the ever increasing burden of guilt of having accidentally killed an innocent boy in his first ever mission.
Though this is McDonagh's first feature film, he had impressed earlier with his plays and his Oscar winning short film 'Six Shooter' in 2004. He avoids the trap of trying to impress. The movie works because he understood that balance was the key to his movie.
There are disparate features like comedy, violence, morality, backdrop that had to be carefully blended. Though it is set in a beautiful city, there are no attempts to wow us and instead the city serves as an ominous backdrop for the violence and morality that is being played out. The violence, though at times gory, is not glamourised. The comedy is subtle and never veers off into farce.
The actors do complete justice to a fine script. This is clearly one of Farrell's finest performances and the lesser known Gleeson is perfect, just as always. The chemistry between them is believable and both actors mange to bring out the inner turmoil to the surface.
Ralph Fiennes, though appearing in the later half of the movie gives a brilliant performance as the boss. He plays a charming but completely wicked man who has a weird notion of living up to his principles.
Another interesting aspect of this movie is the dialogue. At times the characters discuss inane topics but there is also seamless transition to more profound things. The themes of guilt, redemption and loyalty are all very maturely handled. This is an action movie with soul.
It isn't likely that there is going to be much noise made for this movie either at the box office or by the critics. But this movie definitely deserves more attention than it will ever get. For those looking for a good balance of action, comedy and scenery, check this movie out. It delivers.