Dialogue At Its Cinematic Best: “In Bruges”

Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in "In Bruges"

When a movie deals with such heavy topics as atonement, redemption, the after life, death, guilt, honor, friendship, and suicide, it’s naturally becomes hard for a viewer to swallow such heavy subjects in an hour and a half, which is why the hilarious humor of the most original screenplay of 2008 makes it a piece of cake for the audience. Take this example of an exchange of dialogue: 

Ray: Why didn’t you wave hello to me today when I waved hello to you today?

Jimmy: I was on a very strong horse tranquilizer today; Wasn’t waving hello to anybody. Except… maybe to a horse.

: Huh? What are you talking about?

: Just horseshit.

: You from America?

: Yeah. Don’t hold it against me.

: Well, that’s for me to decide, isn’t it?

: [to Denise] You from America too?

: No, I’m from Amsterdam.

: Amsterdam! Amsterdam’s just a lot of bloody prostitutes, isn’t it?

: Yes, that’s why I came to Bruges. Been trying to get a better price for my pussy here.

: Huh?

: You two are weird. Would you like some cocaine?

If that didn’t do it for how about this scene which is possibly my favorite of this little gem:

Ken: And at the same time, at the same time as trying to lead a good life, I have to reconcile that with the fact that with the fact that, yes, I have killed people. Not many people. And most of them were not very nice people. Apart from one person.

Ray: Who was that?

: This bloke Danny Aliband’s brother. He was just trying to protect his brother. Like you or I would. He was just a lollipop man. But he came at me with a bottle. What are you gonna do? I shot him down.

: Hmm. In my book, though, someone comes at you with a bottle, I’m sorry, that is a deadly weapon, he’s gotta take the consequences.

: I know that in my heart, but I also know he was trying to protect his brother, you know?

: I know, but a bottle, that can kill ya. That’s a case of “It’s you or him”. If he’d come at you with his bare hands, that’d be different. That wouldn’t have been fair.

: But technically, someone’s bare hands, they can kill you too. They can be deadly weapons too. What if he knew Karate, say?

: You said he was a lollipop man.

: He WAS a lollipopman.

: What a lollipop man doing, knowing fucking Karate?

: I’m just saying…

: How old was he?

: About fifty.

: What’s a fifty year old lollipop man doing, knowing fucking Karate? What was he, a Chinese lollipop man?

: Course not.

: Well then.

I consider “In Bruges”  the “Pulp Fiction” of the naughties. A film daring to mix the darkest of drama with the funniest of humor all in fucking Bruges.

24 thoughts on “Dialogue At Its Cinematic Best: “In Bruges”

  1. I laughed so much with the Chinese lollipop man thing. F*cking genius.
    And the thing with the bottle as a weapon, his excuse to hit the woman at the restaurant: Uh! A bottle! *hits her in the face*
    This movie made me laugh as much as it made my heart ache. What a brilliant way to portrait the guilt, the regret, the change of heart without lessening it with the humour. Brilliant movie, one of my favorites of all time.


    1. Both of the scenes you mentioned are among my favorite scenes of the decade. The film has so much going for it. It’s destined to become a cult classic. I believe it’s the best of it’s kind and by that I mean the best crime film that will have you laughing out loud one minute and teary eyed the next. Indeed one of my favorites films of all time as well 🙂


  2. And it doesn’t detract that the movie is so “quotable”. I enjoyed Ralph Fiennes character a lot. The dialogue is so cleverly funny and sad at the same time, like when Ken and Harry are talking about how he (Harry) won’t start a shootout “in the middle of a f*cking million Belgiums, not to mention the other nationalities just on their holidays” That whole scene is priceless, with Harry’s cunt f*cking kids and Ken telling Harry how he had to stop Ray from killing himself :”This gets f*cking worse. Not only did you refuse to kill the boy, you even stopped the boy to kill himself!”… And the part where the hostess of the hotel asks them to put their guns down and go home -> Harry: “Don’t be stupid. This is the shootout.” Hilarious and somehow full of tension! “you completely promise you’ll jump in the canal?” “I completely promise!”


  3. I LOVED this as well!! All the deaths are so brilliantly set out, especially the last. Irony and logic at its best.

    Colin Farrell was good here, but man I thought Brendan Gleeson was just as good, if not better. But then again Gleeson is ALWAYS brilliant and it’s impressive how Farrell stepped up to his level here.

    Ray: Do you think this is good?
    Ken: Do I think what’s good?
    Ray: You know, going around in a boat, looking at stuff?
    Ken: Yes, I do. It’s called sight-seeing.

    Then there’s the bit about the Canadian tourists who are NOT portrayed as the nice people that we always are – sooo funny.

    Oh and this:

    Ray: What am I gonna do, Ken? What am I gonna do?
    Ken: Just keep movin’. Keep on movin’. Try not to think about it. Learn a new language, maybe?
    Ray: Sure. I can hardly do English.
    Ray: That’s one thing I like about Europe, though. You don’t have to learn any of their languages.

    I am so going to Bruges one day.


    1. Haha! Exactly my thoughts. I always get tempted to book a ticket to Bruges after seeing this. If you watch the special features, you’ll find Martin McDonagh talking about what made him to the picture in the first place. He was visiting Bruges and kept sight seeing for a few days but after that he spent an additional two or three days and got totally bored and just wanted to leave “fucking Bruges”. That’s when the idea hit him and he created these two characters each representing one of his two sides (Gleeson the interested history buff and Farrell the bored party animal typr of guy). He basically split his feelings up into two characters and that’s why it’s so interesting to watch them argue with each other because that’s essentially what happens to all of us when we visit historic cities. I remeber being in Rome when I kept asking myself, should I go to see the coliseum or go to the new club opening. We always have these two sides pushing each other around.

      Colin Farrell is a very underrated actor. People often mistake him for another below average actor with good looks. I can recall Al Pacino calling him “the greatest actor of his generation” after they filmed “The Recruit”. While I wouldn’t go as far as he did calling him a generation’s best. I do understand why he may have said so. He’s one of the few actor out there who can express a character’s inner feelings through simple facial expressions without any explanatory dialogue.

      We all know Gleeson is pitch perfect so it was no surprise he nailed it here. I found myself feeling sorry for Farrell’s character yet touched by Gleeson’s character’s choices throughout the story. I also think Fiennes was great as the villain with a strict code of ethics. It’s one of those rare occasions were everyone shines.

      I’m glad you liked it Grace. Your comments always trigger me to express more of how I felt about a particular film.


      1. Colin Farrell is so good at playing extensions of himself…like in The Recruit, SWAT, even Alexander, and here. It’s always this semi-maniac, unstable, intense type. I think I’ll only be really convinced that he’s one of the greats of his generation when he steps outside the box and play something completely off character.

        Yes Fiennes was pitch perfect here too! I loved the chase scene.


      2. “Don’t be stupid. This is the shootout!” The chase scene was great.

        Out of this generation, I’d say Edward Norton, Russell Crowe, Daniel Day Lewis, Sean Penn, and Philip Seymore Hoffman are the best working actors today.


  4. One of my favorite moments. This made me laugh a lot when I watched the movie for the first time.

    Overweight Man: Been to the top of the tower?

    Ray: Yeah… yeah, it’s rubbish.

    Overweight Man: It is? The guide book says it’s a must see.

    Ray: Well you lot ain’t going up there.

    Overweight Man: Pardon me? Why?

    Ray: I mean, it’s all winding stairs. I’m not being funny.

    Overweight Man: What exactly are you trying to say?

    Ray: What exactly am I trying to say? You’s a bunch of f*ckin’ elephants.
    [overweight man attempts to chase Ray around but quickly grows tired]

    Ray: Come on, leave it fatty!
    [the overweight women calm down the overweight man]

    Overweight Woman #2: [to Ray] You know you’re just the rudest man. The rudest man!

    Ken: [coming back from the tower] What’s all that about?
    [Ray shrugs]

    Ken: They’re not going up there.
    [to overweight family]

    Ken: Hey, guys. I wouldn’t go up there. It’s really narrow.

    Overweight Woman #2: Screw you, motherf*****!

    Ken: [to Ray] What was that about?

    Ray: [shrugs]

    Oh, and I’d love to visit Bruges, too!


    1. Hi Seongyong Cho!

      That piece of dialogue was pitch perfect 🙂 You forgot the last line though “Americans…” 🙂

      What I love about all these comments is that each of us is providing different pieces of dialogue enriching my piece as evidence that the screenplay is truely one of a kind. It took me about half an hour to pick a favorite exchange of words in “In Bruges” and now that I’ve picked a favorite, I’m sure I like it just as much as many of the ones mentioned here 🙂


  5. There were so many great movies that came out the same year as In Bruges, it’s been hard for me to pick which movies to seek out right away, and which ones to wait on. The fact, however, that I’ve been laughing at every quote that people have been posting up here means that I’m not gonna wait as long as I might have on seeing this film. Wonder how the people in Bruges feel about this movie. 🙂


    1. I always feel I’ve done my duty when someone picks up a film I recommend on my blog so thank you.

      Oh and knowing you, you’ll love this film. It’s like a modern day Greek tragedy set in a shithole (hehe kidding Bruges). You’ll love it. It’s one of the most original films I’ve ever seen. Please let me know what you think of it afterwards. I can’t wait to visit Bruges and start pointing at locations spotted in the film. Oh man, thinking about “In Bruges” always gives me the urge to watch this film again. I’ll go set up the living room.


  6. Update: In Bruges is waiting at the library for me. I’ll let you know what I think as soon as I’ve seen it, hopefully this weekend. I’ve been quite busy at night recently, and soon I’ll be busy during the day, as well.

    I’ll reveal all on my blog soon, provided I find the time to post. 😉


    1. Have seen In Bruges. Will be seeing it again for maximum effect. My favorite lines in the film (which I’ve highlighted in bold from this conversation):

      Ken: Ray, you are about the worst tourist in the whole world.
      Ray: Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.

      I love how everything gets tied up in the end, too, in a way that I didn’t expect. Even things that don’t seem to fit together, fit together in the end. Probably best to see with a big crowd of people, too.


      1. I agree, seeing it with a big crowd is very enjoyable as everyone will be caught off guard by the memorable lines like the one you mentioned. I’ve seen the film around 4 times by now. I’m waiting for the bluray to be released for my fifth viewing. Some of the architecture, and sights will be a feast to the eye in high definition.


      2. Funny, every time I see a DVD, I also think, “I wonder how this would look in bluray…”

        Also, the entire SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) movie listing has been posted online. I’ll be putting up a post soon on my blog with a link to the movie listings, for anyone who’s thinking of coming. I’m not sure how many movies I’ll get to see, as I’ll probably be enumerating for the U.S. Census throughout the entire festival, which means I can spare only one or two nights a week for volunteering/movie watching. That, however, will be the subject of ANOTHER post on my blog. 🙂


      3. I only select specific films to replcace my DVD copies. “In Bruges” will be one of them. Send me the SIFF film listing. Ill be following your blog about your attendance there 🙂 Also, just in case you don’t know. Roger tweeted about your lovely comment on his blog 🙂


  7. Glad to see someone thought the line “Would you like some cocaine?” was funny. Very hilarious film, so many great lines. I liked the whole thing about the “gay beer” as well. The final shot is nice dramatically, on a cinematic note.


    1. Oh, yes. The last scenes was very cinematic. Every time I watch this film, I catch more and mroe great lines. I wouldn’t be surprised if by this board ends up containing half of the screenplay.


  8. One gay beer for my gay friend and one normal beer for me….cause I’m normal.

    My favorite movie of all time and not just because I’ve been to Bruges twice (an incredible city by the way, while really not much more than a town).


  9. “Somehow, I believe, Ken, the balance will tip in the favor of culture, like a big fat fucking retarded fucking black girl on a see-saw, opposite… a dwarf.”

    greatness!!! the whole movie!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: