In Bruges

Director: Martin McDonagh
Screenwriters: Martin McDonagh

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


Martin McDonagh, an award-winning playwright and Academy Award winner for his short Six Shooter, makes his feature debut with a work that is deliriously funny, pointed, and perverse, yet sad, thoughtful, and infused with a moral vision that resonantly reflects today's surreal world. The film takes place in a storybook setting, the preserved medieval Flemish town of Bruges, where two hit men, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson), have been ordered to cool their heels among holiday tourists after a botched execution. Though he feels out of place amid the Gothic architecture, canals, and cobbled streets, Ken is drawn to the serenity of the place as he tries to soothe Ray's haunted psyche. As they wait for their boss Harry's (Ralph Fiennes's) call, they are caught up in a series of weird encounters with locals, tourists, a dwarf American filmmaker, and Dutch prostitutes, and a romantic liaison that is not what it seems. When the call finally comes, it prompts a life-and-death struggle that is violent, darkly comic, and surprisingly touching.

The Irish are without peer in making us laugh about ourselves, life, and especially things that aren’t supposed to be funny. The profane brilliance of McDonagh’s writing is all that and more. Galvanized by perceptive performances and framed by a unique beauty, this is filmmaking at its most exhilarating.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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