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In Bruges


Stars: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clemence Poesy, Jeremie Renier, Eric Godon, Elizabeth Berrington

Director: Martin McDonagh

Here's a film that keeps threatening to be good, but can't quite achieve an even tone. Lying low in Bruges, Belgium, two Irish hit-men, Ray and Ken (Farrell, Gleeson) lurch around the city like Laurel and Hardy in Hell, as they wait for instructions from their boss, Harry.

Burly Ken takes in the city's Gothic architecture, which bores his younger confederate, who hooks up with Anna (Poesy), who sells cocaine and heroine, and robs tourists with the help of her boyfriend (Renier). Ray turns the tables on them, as well as assaulting an obnoxious Canadian fellow-diner (Zeljko Ivanek).

Told to kill Ray by the as-yet-unseen Harry, Ken finds his companion about to shoot himself over the accidental death of a boy - collateral damage on his first hit. Ken rings Harry to say he's let Ray go - why doesn't he say he's killed him and dumped the body in the canal? That only brings Harry (who turns out to be Lord Voldemort, sorry Ralph Fiennes - with a snarling London accent) storming over to Belgium spitting blood.

The film tries to be wistful, poignant, violent, nutty, exciting and in-your-face shocking but, despite being very well made, it just can't blend these disparate elements together. Nor will you believe that a man, falling, dying, 200 feet from a bell tower to concrete below, could be capable of a few last words.

David Quinlan

UK/Ireland/France/Russia/Germany 2007. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 13 Apr 2008