Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours
It’s interesting to see Martin McDonagh’s first film with the hindsight of his two other movies. While I missed In Bruges (2008) back when it came out, I have recently enjoyed Seven Psychopaths (2012) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). Having now seen all three of McDonagh’s films, I see the themes and motifs he uses throughout his directing. I already had hints of these common elements; it’s just that seeing In Bruges for the first time has cemented them. From using short people to drug use to some uncomfortable violence, McDonagh has a style all his own, and it clearly shows in his breakout film.
I think what draws me to McDonagh’s films is his expert use of multiple “Chekov’s Guns” as well as tying all these various foreshadowings together in a satisfying way. Whether it’s a fat American, spare change, or the untimely death of a child, each part of In Bruges was included for a purpose that becomes evident in some truly genius twists along the way. Some may say that the ambiguity of the endings of his movies is frustrating, but I almost like the open-ended conclusions that seem to say “and life goes on.”
While I did enjoy In Bruges, it still had some areas where McDonagh eventually improved through his continued filmmaking. Even though they spoke English, half the time, I couldn’t understand what was being said by the actors. This almost caused me to turn on closed captions for some semblance of “subtitles.” Other than that, the dark comedy helped to balance the deeply dramatic plot as it centered around death in its many forms. I was already a fan of McDonagh’s films, but In Bruges helps to confirm that the McDonagh trilogy is one of the best pieces of filmmaking to happen in the last decade.
A fantastic first film in the “McDonagh trilogy,” I give In Bruges 4.5 stars out of 5.