A pair of mismatched professional hitmen are sent to the picturesque titular Belgian city to lie low after a job in London goes wrong. There, young philistine Ray (Colin Farrell) and older, cultured Ken (Brendan Gleeson) argue the pros and cons of the city (paradise or purgatory?) while awaiting orders from their gangster boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes), who remains in cryptic phone contact.
The parallels between Ray and Ken and the listless and philosophical Beckett protagonists Estragon and Vladimir, as well as those between off-screen Harry and eternally absent Godot, are nicely teased out by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh in his feature film debut (following his Oscar-winning short, Six Shooter).
With its literate but expletive-riddled script peppered with the filthiest of language, as emitted from this pair of gobby Dubliners, In Bruges is frequently hilarious. As is the wilfully provocative non-PC attitude that runs the gamut of prejudice from xenophobia to taking the piss out of the disabled. But it’s all in the service of the well-defined characters, who are at once monstrous and sympathetic. And credit to Farrell, Gleeson and McDonagh for wrestling some hard-won but genuinely affecting moments from Ray and Ken’s stumble towards redemption.
General release from Fri 18 Apr.