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College students do not typically shop sustainably when fast fashion is quick and easy.
Opinion: Society has made us cheap
Published June 13, 2024

Finding Farrell ‘In Bruges’

Two hit men hide out in the Belgian city of Bruges after a botched job.

It seems like a fairly simple story. Two hit men are sent to Bruges to hide out after a botched job. Wait … Bruges? Where the hell is that?

Bruges (pronounced: Broozh), is in Belgium, about an hour’s drive northwest of Brussels. It’s considered one of the best preserved medieval cities in Belgium, and some, including Ralph Fiennes’s mob boss character in the film, consider it a place straight out of a fairy tale.

“In Bruges”

Directed by: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes
Rated: R
Showing at: Lagoon Cinema, 1320 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis

Because of its canals, Bruges is nicknamed the Venice of the North and it becomes an important character in the first feature film by long-time playwright and director Martin McDonagh.

“In Bruges” develops from a seemingly simple plot about two hit men, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) into a complex examination of good, evil and all of the nuances in between.

The black comedy is well-spun, and was well-received as the opening night film for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

During a conference call with McDonagh and Farrell, McDonagh said that when writing this film he wanted to achieve a balance between laughter and the despair that often comes with life.

“The way I see the world, in lots of ways, is naturally bleak but naturally funny,” he said. The film lives up to his description and is surprisingly funny.

While in a quaint hotel in Bruges, Ray and Ken await a phone call from their boss Harry (Fiennes). They were told to quietly sight-see and await further instructions. While Ken is content to tour the gothic city with its churches and canals, Ray is bored with Bruges and is more interested in hitting the pub and getting pissed (slang for drunk).

Subtle comedy surrounds Bruges and Belgium and the characters’ reaction to their surroundings – as Ray wonders, why would you go to Belgium if you could just as easily hide in London?

Within the first half-hour, the real reason the two are hiding comes to light and suddenly these two seemingly bumbling hit men become more sinister, as does the tone of the film.

Farrell said one of the things that drew him to “In Bruges” was the balance between comedy and pain.

“It was just really deep without being indulgent,” he said.

McDonagh, an award-winning playwright whose short film, “Six Shooter,” won the Academy Award for Live Action Short Film in 2005, said the challenge when writing this film was the need to think in images.

“I didn’t want to make a playwright film, but I also didn’t want to run away from the things that I like,” he said, including characterization.

At the start of filming, the actors had three weeks of intense rehearsal that allowed them to dig into their characters and look at the complexities of the film, Farrell said.

The movie was filmed on location in Bruges, and city officials basically gave the filmmaker run of the town.

“They didn’t even ask to see the script,” McDonagh said, when he initially asked to film on-location in the city.

City officials and the local crew that worked on the film were given the opportunity to see it before its official release date and McDonagh said they loved it. The rest of the city will have to wait until the film’s Belgian debut in March.

With all of the comedy made at the city’s expense as well as placing such a dark story within its limits, Bruges residents might not have been happy with how their medieval city was portrayed.

As McDonagh stated, “I was kind of worried, they might have thought we were taking the piss.”

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