"In Bruges" DVD Review
June 06, 2008 by Zach Demeter
Remember that “Wow I’ve never heard of that movie but it looks pretty good” file? Well here’s the latest entry. Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, In Bruges was a relatively unknown film that came flying out of nowhere. Debuting in a little over two hundred theaters, the film managed to make near eight million in the states and almost twenty million worldwide. So what makes In Bruges any different than the other myriad of titles that have been under the “never heard of” file? Well unlike a lot of movies that you haven’t heard of, In Bruges has one thing going for it: it is a freakin’ great movie.
After a botched assassination, hit men Ray (Colin Farrel) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are sent to lie low in Bruges, Belgium. Eager to leave, Ray spends most of the “vacation” in pubs and on the set of a movie being filmed there, while Ken is having the time of his life, soaking up all the history that’s packed into this small town. While Ray continues to worry about his fate after the bungled assassination led him to inadvertently killing a little boy, Ken receives word from their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes) about what he’s to do about Ray.
In every sense of the word In Bruges is a dark comedy. While I’m hesitant to compare it to Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang which was much more of a general comedy as well as thriller, In Bruges follows along those time lines of comedy in which you aren’t sure if you should laugh at it. Maybe I’m comparing the two unfairly; it could just be that I feel the same way I about In Bruges that I did about Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang in that I was interested in the film after seeing the trailer and so impressed with the film after seeing it that I felt the need to tell everyone I knew about it.
Granted with films like In Bruges you have to be careful to who you recommend the film to, as there is some incredibly screwed up dialogue and situations taking place in it that people might think you’re a nutter if you aren’t mindful of who sees it. It’s an acquired taste that many don’t have, but if you think, even for a brief second, that there could be humor in a movie about a hit man who accidentally kills a little boy, then you’ve already answered whether you should see this movie or not.
Of course the humor here doesn’t revolve around the death, just the circumstances that came from it. Not only does Farrell deliver one of the absolute funniest roles I’ve seen him in, those around him seem to benefit from the absurdity of his acting, with Gleeson and Fiennes sharing in on the laughs during the film as well. Supporting cast and main cast alike shine here, with even one-bit characters later returning in the film to nearly upstage the stars with their brilliant dialogue delivery.
As much as the actors play a part in the film, the location of the film itself is a big part of it as well. Just like we’re told in the film, everything about Bruges is true and the brilliant directing, cinematography of the film is only made possible by the overall beauty of the city. It’s absolutely magnificent and while I would have had no interest in visiting there prior to this film, it certainly looks like a nice, relaxing place to spend a vacation. Let’s just hope I don’t pack on a ton of pounds and attempt to climb the massive tower like the other American tourists in the film did.
There’s so much to like about In Bruges that it’s difficult to peg down just what makes it so wonderful, but between the action sequences in the film (there aren’t many, but they’re all well done) and just the hilarious circumstances that Ray and Harry get into…it’s really just a terrifically done film. I admit I had issues hearing some of the dialogue and I had to switch the subtitles on at one point in the film (thick accents + whispering = much straining), but that’s hardly a knock against the film…Farrell and Gleeson just happen to have incredibly rich accents.
One of my favorite elements of the scene, and one that sets it up perfectly, is a scene between Ray and Harry in the park. I won’t spoil the circumstances for you, but the way the characters interact and inadvertently/quietly joke with one another even under the most dire and depressing of circumstances makes for a pitch perfect sequence with some very notable acting done by both parties involved. It’s a magnificent scene and one that I’m sure will stand out to those who see the film.
Also a word to those who don’t enjoy cursing: this film is about as laced with language was a Tarantino film. According to IMDb, “The word ‘f***’ and its derivatives are said 126 times in this 107-minute film, an average of 1.18 ‘f***s’ per minute.” While I knew it was a lot (there’s even an included extra on the disc that has everyone of the curse words) while watching the film, the number is a bit staggering to me, but it’s all part of the films appeal. I know a lot of people are turned off by the overuse of foul language, but in a dark comedy such as this it’s almost a mandatory requirement to help lighten the mood as much as possible.
Overall In Bruges not only goes down as one of my favorite films of this year but one of my all-time favorites. I can see myself re-watching this film over and over again in the future and it really is just one brilliantly executed film. I find myself more and more impressed by off-kilter films (Hot Fuzz being another one of my favorites) and In Bruges is just a knockout from every angle. Highly Recommended.
In Bruges doesn’t have the most flattering DVD release, but we get a decent mixture of extras to check out here, so it’s not too bad. The film itself arrives in a standard DVD amaray case with plain disc art (mirror surface + black text again, thanks Universal) and easy to navigate menus. Video and audio for the film are remarkable; with plenty of detail being seen in Bruges’s many locations. I was actually stunned by how clean the transfer was; considering this was the first DVD I’d watched on my TV since the five or six Blu-ray’s that’d been occupying my player previously, the amount of detail that it packed in was absolutely amazing. Plenty of rich colors and deep blacks are present as well and the Dolby Digital 5. 1 track is a thunderous beast, pounding out the music and bullet fires with great precision. It’s a very active audio mix and one that only helps envelop you into the movie.
Moving onto the extras we have a healthy mix of deleted/extended scenes (18:22), presented in a 4x3 window with a 16x9 image inside. There are some really nice sequences here, but the film was so tightly cut and had such excellent pacing that I think throwing in any of these scenes would have hindered it more than help it. A short gag reel (6:01) is also included.
“When in Bruges” (13:50) is our first extra in anamorphic widescreen and when paired with “Strange Bruges” (7:29) we get a nice look at the making-of the film as well as the city it was filmed in. We hear from cast and crew and director Martin McDonagh talks about his inspiration for the film (surprise: he loves Bruges) and together the two extras form our making-of documentary for the film, although there’s still plenty of other Bruges scenery to be seen.
“A Boat Trip Around Bruges” is a non-anamorphic extra that runs 5:43. It’s essentially the canal trip that Harry and Ray went on in the film, only without them or any scenes from the film. The scenery tells its own story while a series of Bruges facts fill the screen at certain elements of the ride. The ride is clipped together from various elements of the city and it really shows off just how beautiful the whole place is. Kudos to Bruges for remaining so historical and beautiful in nature over the hundreds of years since its inception, it’s one of the more beautiful cities I’ve seen and the description of “like being in a fairytale”, as used in the film, is certainly apt.
Finally we have the extra I mentioned in the film review, “F**cking Bruges” (1:36), a short reel of all of the potty language expelled in the film and presented in anamorphic widescreen. If you thought that the dialogue exchange between Harry and Ken was vulgar before, just wait until you hear it without all the non F and C words accompanying it!
That wraps up In Bruges DVD release. I wish there was a commentary as it’s obvious that director McDonagh is passionate about this film (he wrote and directed it, after all), but what we do get here is worth checking out as is. Along with the film this release comes Highly Recommended, just make sure you’re into dark (really dark) comedies before picking it up.
In Bruges arrives on DVD on June 24th.