In Bruges (2008)

Rated: R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language and some drug use.
Length: 107 minutes
Grade: BFBB+=B
Budget: Unknown
Box Office: $30 million ($8 US, $19 Intl, $3 DVD)

Written and Directed by: Martin McDonagh, with his first full-length movie.
Starring: Colin Farrel, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, and Clemence Poesy.

After two hitmen accidentally kill a little girl in England, their boss sends them to Bruges to lay low. Little does the junior partner know, but his mentor has been tasked to kill him. When he refuses, the boss comes to Bruges to handle the job himself. Meanwhile the medieval town of Bruges is host to a budding romance between Farrell and an exotic girl who deals drugs to the stars while on location for a strange movie.

Entertainment Value: B
You have to listen fast, because they don’t talk slowly. But this movie is hilarious, mostly for the offhand comments and quippy banter between Gleeson and Farrell. I found myself regularly laughing and then at other times staring in something like wonder at the depth and symbolism that this movie manages to combine, especially for a first effort from the writer/director.

Superficial Content: F
Drugs/Alcohol F, Sexuality C, Violence F, Language F, Illegality F
It’s pretty much awful, although not particularly in the sex stuff, though there are scenes involving sex with prostitutes and some minor nudity. The plot revolves around drug dealing, people use drugs, and there’s plenty of alcohol use. But of course the main issues here are hit-men, violence, killing, and more violence. This is definitely an adults only movie.

Significant Content: B
To me, this is exactly the sort of movie Christians could and should watch with their non-Christian friends because it will offer so many interesting things to talk about and expand into theological issues. This movie is essentially about guilt, justice/consequences, sacrifice, and redemption. All the other stuff is just trappings to dress it up and make it interesting.

Artistic/Thought Value: B+
In one sense, this is a very vulgar and ugly movie. But in so many other ways, it takes this filth-drenched ugliness and finds something beautiful underneath. This is definitely an art film, by which I mean that it’s intended to not be neat and conveniently packaged, but instead is mean to be rewatched and discussed rather than given a simple thumbs up or down.

Discussion Questions:
~Why does Ken change his mind about killing Ray? What does this decision say about him? Have you ever been angry with someone but then had your emotions change when you saw them being vulnerable or depressed?
~When Harry decides to take his own life, why does he do so? To what degree would you say that he is a man of principle? Are evil people usually men of principle? Would you say that evil men are those who have too much commitment to some principles while not recognizing or honoring enough other important ones? What are the differences or similarities between the suicide attempts of Harry, Ray, and Ken?
~What might have happened if an evangelist had been able to interact with any of these three characters? Who do you think would be the most likely to accept Christ?
~Why does Harry send Ray to Bruges? What motivates him to want to do something nice for Ray before he has him killed? Is this a coherent agenda?
~What is this movie trying to say in the way it uses children, whether the initial victim, the midget, or the pregnant woman in the hotel?
~Is this a fairy tale? How so? If fairy tales were told with realism, would they normally look like this?
~Is there a Christ figure in this movie? Why does Ken do what he does for Ray? Is anyone saved or redeemed in this movie?
~Do you think this movie glorifies crime or assassination?
~Do hit-men have the sort of consciences that Ray and Ken seem to have? Are they “real people” when they’re not committing murder?
~Who has a more healthy reaction to the evil thing they have done: Ray or Ken? Is Ken sublimating his guilt by wanting to see the sights?
~Compare this movie with some other movies about assassins such as The Jackal, Grosse Point Blank, The Matador, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Bourne trilogy, Pulp Fiction, Road to Perdition, Kill Bill, Whole 9 and 10 yards, and Replacement Killers. Why do you think so many movies have been made about assassins? Why are they always given such engaging personalities? Do you believe there are assassins? Do you believe the movies portray them accurately? Is there a significant difference between movies about vigilantes and movies about assassins?
~Is Bruges purgatory? How so, or not?
Overall Grade: B
It’s horribly vulgar, but also wonderfully interesting. I found it both fun and deep, but I can also see how many people might not particularly enjoy it.

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