Dispatch direct from Sundance
By Cathleen Rountree, critic and film journalist
Opening Night Film:
“In Bruges,” directed and written by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, opened the Festival in Park City on Thursday night. The settings and cinematography are lush, and the talents of Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes aptly recognized. But in their company, Colin Farrell’s disappointing performance bears the mark of an amateur.
The story: Two hit men (Gleeson and Farrell) are ordered by their boss (Fiennes) to lay low in the preserved medieval Flemish town of the title. Gleeson, the old-school killer with compassion, takes a comforting paternal position toward the emotionally immature Farrell, who, back in London, inadvertently murdered a child. Not yet hardened and cynical, to his credit, he is haunted by and deeply regrets the accident. McDonagh manages to insult every ethnic and disabled group from “fat black women” to “midgets.” One of the problems I had with the film is its dismal attempt at humor: it simply tries too hard, and generally falls flat. As the dithering pair assume the role of tourist –– visiting centuries old towers, churches, and squares, we, too, become sightseers and luxuriate in the honey-toned lights on the canal and church spires, which, aside from the pleasure of watching Gleeson, is the best part of the film.
“In Bruges” opens at the Nickelodeon on Feb. 15.