‘In Bruges’ loses its way


Contributing Reporter 

The problem with “In Bruges,” the new film from director Martin McDonagh, is that it isn’t sure what film it’s trying to be. 

Is it a dark comedy? A drug-fueled surrealist buddy comedy? Is it a Tarantino-esque crime flick infused with stylized dialogue? Or is it a serious melodrama?

In the beginning, at least, it’s the story of two hit men, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson), fresh off a successful job and ordered to leave London for the titular city in Belgium to wait for the heat to die down. 

Ken is happy to explore the preserved Medieval architecture of the country while Ray can’t wait to get away from the “old buildings and that” and back into the city. For a while that’s the film. 

Ray arches his eyebrows while obviously being bored as Ken drags him to ancient churches, and art museums. 

The dialogue maintains a steady 50-50 ratio of clunkers to genuinely funny lines and “In Bruges” seems content to be a movie about just that. Then things start to get weird.

A girl gets involved, bringing the romance; the hit men’s employer shows up in town, bringing the action; and their own back story is fleshed out, bringing the drama. 

All the while, things get more surreal and somewhere between the drug-dealing girlfriend and the racist dwarf, it becomes difficult to tell which parts are supposed to be funny and which aren’t.

Not that there’s anything wrong with blending genres, but “Bruges” consistently stumbles with its own tone, featuring comic moments that jarringly turn sour, then sad, then funny again. 

And as the film sinks deeper into surrealism, it becomes more difficult to take seriously, while, simultaneously, asking the audience to take it more seriously.

All that being said, “In Bruges” is entertaining, and if you’re just looking for a good popcorn movie, you could do a lot worse. 

If only it were a bit more consistent,

“Bruges” would be a much easier film to digest. It simply doesn’t ever go in one direction far enough to benefit from the constant digressions.