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In Bruges

Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes & Fleur from Harry Potter.

Rated: 18.

Story: After a bungled job in London, two hitmen (Farrell & Gleeson) are sent to lie low for a while in Bruges. (It's in Belgium!) One of them hates the place, the other quite likes it. They sightsee, they go to the pub and they try not to get into trouble.

They get into trouble.

Their boss (Fiennes) turns up to sort things out. Violence ensues.

Comments: Yes, we went to the cinema and saw something that didn't involve cute, animated creatures or a boy wizard! We got to go straight in without having to apply for a second mortgage to buy some pick'n'mix or having to frog-march a posse of children to the toilet before the film started. It was fantastic! Then again, we did have to cough up full price for our tickets rather than the pound or two we normally pay for the kid's movie on a Saturday morning. The pick'n'mix might have been cheaper...

In Bruges is never going to be the Saturday morning kid's movie, however. It's full of swearing, gory death, drug use and talk of suicide. The characters are often racist, xenophobic and heightist. It's very funny in places but grim and distressing in others. I can't really see Pixar remaking it with rabbits.

I imagine the writer (Martin McDonagh) came up with the idea after a series of unfortunate events left him stranded in Bruges. Picture the scene: Doomed to several days of canal trips, Medieval churches and swans, he goes to the cinema and watches Mr & Mrs Smith to cheer himself up. This doesn't help. He has some beers. This does help... until he gets the bill and realises he's been ripped off. He decides to get even with Bruges and Hollywood in one fell swoop. He decides to write a film about hitmen that isn't all amoral action and excitement but explores the motivation and guilt... while poking fun at Belgium. Excellent.

The cast does a good job, managing to keep things going even in the few uncomfortable moments when the script shifts suddenly from witty banter to disturbing soul-searching. The whole film is bizarre and unlikely but if you've been to Bruges, you'll be too busy laughing and muttering, 'Hey! That's the bridge along from where we stayed!' to notice.

Since there are plenty of lovely shots of Bruges in the film but much of the humour comes from taking the rip out of the city, it's hard to know what the Belgian Tourist Board makes of it all. I think they may be gambling that if you haven't been to Bruges, you won't get the joke and will just think that it looks like a nice place to visit. They may be right.

Conclusion: Like a trip to Bruges with more laughs, added hitmen and less expense.

Explosions: None.
Political correctness: None.
Swing parks: One. (We went there; it's great.)
Swans: Loads. (We saw them; they didn't bite.)
Clock towers: One very tall one. (We didn't go up there; it was too much like effort.)
Cute, fluffy animated rabbits: None.

Rating: 4/5 if you've been to Bruges, else 3/5.

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