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Parents' Guide to

In Bruges

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Hit man movie is violent, profane, and provocative.

Movie R 2008 107 minutes
In Bruges Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 8 parent reviews

age 16+

Dark comedy with plenty of suspense. Not for kids, though.

Kids will find this movie at best boring, and at worst scarring. This movie is about two Irish assassins who have to lay low in Bruge (hence the title), after a heist gone awry. The first half of the film is spent basically humanizing a couple of murderers, but in the best way possible. These are complex human beings, who do what they do not because they're evil, but because they're paid for it. We don't delve into the motivations of these two characters, but get the sense that they are who they are by circumstance rather than personality. They kill because they're paid to, not because they want to. Not that that's a redeeming quality at all... But what happens in the film is quite different than in most films. The killers are humanized in such a way that you can't help but commiserate. Ray (Colin Farrell), is absolutely devastated by his mistake, and is willing to pay the ultimate price. Ken (Brendan Gleeson) is tasked with correcting that mistake in the most gangster-appropriate way possible, but is having second thoughts. These are two mobsters with a conscience, and it shows. Actually, throughout the whole movie, even the "big bad" guy Henry is shown to have his own set of rules and guidelines by which he lives, as messed up as it is. There's no truly evil person in this film. Just a cast of characters all which abide by a code of flawed morality. In fact, the only character in this film who believes himself to be truly evil is Colin Farrell, and even then, through his own self recognition, he is the least evil of all. For that reason, this is a masterpiece. Also for that reason, this isn't a kids movie. I think it's above most children's heads to process the fact that almost nobody in this film is evil by their own definition. There is plenty of alcohol, drugs, and violence. It's all done so tastefully, that this movie is nowhere near a gore-fest. It's all done with a purpose, but you can't expect the majority of kids to understand why it's done this way. That's why I rate it 16+ at a minimum. However, those that can appreciate it, will find this movie to be a deep character study which examines in particular two individuals who may have made the wrong life choices up til now. Maybe some will find it boring. Certainly some parts are slow if you're used to your thrillers being in-your-face. But, in my mind, this is the perfect slow-burner thriller with just enough comedy elements (furnished by a frustrated Colin Farrell being stuck in possibly the most touristy & gentrified town in all of Belgium) to keep things on the brink of absurdity. For these reasons, I also find it hard to characterize this movie in terms of Common Sense's buzzwords. "Too much violence"? Sure it's violent. But the violence serves a purpose, so I don't consider it too much. "Great messages"?? I can't comfortably say that, but what this movie tries to say is definitely salient. "Great role models"? They're murderers! But murderers with hearts. This movie doesn't fall into the general basic tropes that other films fall into, which makes it exceedingly hard to characterize. And in the end, what you're left with is a bit of a cliffhanger. Not just in terms of what happens to our hero (or anti-hero?). What is hell? And is it just the equivalent of living the rest of our days in ****in' Bruges? [sic]
age 16+

Know your child

One of my all-time favorite movies; I'll just say that up front. Hilarious, violent, and really truly touching. An excellent movie. I've watched this with my 16-year-old, but I wouldn't recommend it for all people that age. It's filled with drugs, casual violence, serious violence, and an appallingly hilarious amount of very colorful language. Know that going in. Watch it once yourself if you're at all in doubt, because it bears re-watching anyway.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (8 ):
Kids say (14 ):

Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's first feature is darkly comic and dense with quick dialogue. It recalls films by Quentin Tarantino, in which desperate, violent characters discuss their life choices and relationships while simultaneously committing heinous acts. While the action is showy and the blood spurty, it's the evolving intimacy between Ken and Ray that is most compelling. Gleeson is especially moving as the aging Ken, who's realizing at long last the emotional and ethical costs of his career as he sees the effects on his newbie partner. Their conversations -- undertaken while walking through cobbled streets, ornate churches, and art museums -- suggest a thoughtful underside to all the nasty antics.

At the same time, the film delivers a now-familiar sort of garish brutality, fast-paced and sharply critical of the banalities that shape pop culture. The subplots are cacophonous and telling, one concerning a movie-within-the-movie inspired by Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now (another film about the confusing links between guilt and righteousness) and another involving a "midget" actor named Jimmy (Jordan Prentice), whose frustrations with Ray's simplistic-seeming moral scheme serve as evocative comedy and complicate the movie's examination of genre, morality, and power hierarchies.

Movie Details

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