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In Bruges

(2008) *** R
101 min. Focus Features. Director: Martin McDonagh. Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clemence Poesy, Jeremie Renier.
Playwright Martin McDonagh, an expert of sweaty crime dramas, takes his show on the road in his feature debut, In Bruges. McDonagh (who won an Oscar for his short film "Six Shooter") writes and directs this tale of a pair of hitmen who find themselves in the purgatorial climes of Bruges. The Belgian city truly becomes a character in the piece, as Brendan Gleeson's killer drags partner Colin Farrell to see the historical sights. While awaiting his next job, Farrell takes every opportunity to drink and pitch woo, winning a date with a woman he meets on a film set. But there's more at work than meets the eye, and complications ensue once the call comes down from mobster Ralph Fiennes. In Bruges is a solid entry in the comic noir genre, with witty dialogue and strong performances from all three male leads. It's the sort of movie with a Carter Burwell score, a warped civility amongst killers, and lines like "You can't sell horse tranquilizers to a midget!" Though it becomes notably less compelling in its third act, In Bruges ultimately works on the strength of its characters: men with enthusiasms, dark secrets and an urge to reveal them in word and deed.
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