In Bruges: Colin Farrell as Ray
Colin Farrell as Ray, conflicted contract killer
Bruges, Belgium, Winter 2007
Film: In Bruges
Release Date: February 8, 2008
Director: Martin McDonagh
Costume Designer: Jany Temime
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Shortly thereafter, the instructions came through: “Get the fook out of London youse dumb fucks. Get to Bruges.” I didn’t even know where Bruges fuckin’ was. It’s in Belgium.
Despite it being directly up my alley, I somehow went 15 years without seeing In Bruges, Martin McDonagh’s critically acclaimed hit that opened the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. For his performance as the exiled hitman Ray, Colin Farrell received his first Golden Globe Award for In Bruges, fifteen years before winning his second this year for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin, which re-teamed him with McDonagh and co-star Brendan Gleeson and also landed Farrell his first Academy Award nomination as announced this morning.
Following a botched first job in which he assassinates a priest and, tragically, a young boy in the path of one of his bullets, the inexperienced and irritable Ray is sent with his good-natured and literal partner-in-crime Ken (Brendn Gleeson) to Bruges, where they’re to lay low and await further instructions from their profane boss Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes). Much to Ray’s particular dismay, the only available accommodation is a shared twin hotel room as the rest of the “shithole” berg is fully booked for Christmas.
Wracked with guilt from the boy’s death, Ray grows on Ken’s nerves as “the worst tourist in the world,” though he grows more genial after downing a few beers—specifically, six pints and seven bottles—and striding onto a Dutch film set where he makes a date with the charming Chloë Villette (Clémence Poésy).
“I shoot people for money,” Ray confesses during their first dinner date, “priests, children… you know, the usual.” His cheeky tone may suggest to Chloë that he’s joking, but she’s equally transparent when she immediately reveals that her role on the film set consists of selling hard drugs to the crew. It’s only the first of several revelations over the course of the unorthodox date, as he later describes to Ken:
My date involved two instances of extreme violence, one instance of her hand on my cock and my finger up her thing, which lasted all too briefly—isn’t that always the way?—one instance of me stealing five grams of her very high-quality cocaine, and one instance of me blinding a poofy little skinhead… so, all in all, my evening pretty much balanced out fine.
Before their cocaine binge with a race war-obsessed dwarf actor (Jordan Prentice) and a duo of prostitutes, Ken receives the long-awaited call from Harry who explains the true purpose of their reason to Bruges: eliminating Ray.
What’d He Wear?
Unlike his voluble companion Ken who rotates through a few tasteful suits and sport jackets, Ray never changes his clothing through the duration of In Bruges, aside from a few variations in how he wears his shirt.
Ray’s wardrobe is anchored by a thigh-length topcoat in a wide-scaled black-and-gray herringbone woolen tweed that presents an overall charcoal finish. It’s a warm enough layer, though perhaps not enough for winter in Belgium, as Ray often sinks himself into the buttoned-up coat, visually representing how over his head he is as a novice hitman.
The single-breasted coat has padded shoulders, a single vent, and notch lapels with dark blue felt around the undercollar. There are three flat black buttons up the front to close the jacket—which Ray wears both fully open and fully closed—which match the single button that closes the semi-strap around the cuff of each sleeve. The side pockets are widely welted and on a gentle slant that keeps them from being totally vertical.
Ray wears a distinctive ice-white cotton shirt by DKNY, printed in what the Prop Store calls “a jazzy pattern of black geometric shapes” against a subtle tonal texture, all “a bit over-elaborate” just as Ray had described their hideout situation. The spread-collared shirt has a front placket and barrel cuffs that each fasten with white buttons.
Ray’s undershirt is a long-sleeved henley in pale-ecru cotton, with a five-button top that closes over a slate track-striped inner placket.
With just a few exceptions, I associate solid black suits with death, either worn to funerals or by movie hitmen. Ray is obviously the latter, running through Bruges in a black suit made from a gently napped lightweight cloth that’s prone to wrinkling.
The single-breasted suit jacket has a two-button front, which Ray typically wears undone but wears fully fastened when he also uncharacteristically buttons his shirt to the neck in preparation for his aborted suicide attempt. The jacket has notch lapels with pick stitching, padded shoulders, four-button cuffs, a welted breast pocket, and straight flapped hip pockets.
Held up by a black leather belt that closes through a squared silver-toned single-prong buckle, the black flat-front suit trousers have side pockets, button-through back pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms.
Ray maintains the color palette by wearing black leather side-zip ankle boots.
While the rest of his outfit is predominantly black and white, Ray shows some rare color in his socks, which are primarily dark gray but with red and white bands across the top that, like the shirt, are also in complicated patterns.
When not wearing his contact lenses, Ray pulls on a pair of tortoise-framed glasses in the narrow rectangular shape that was so popular through the early-to-mid 2000s.
As Ray and Ken theorize that they’ve been sent to Bruges on a job rather than simply to sightsee, Ray worries that “we haven’t got any guns,” until Ken reassures him that “Harry can get guns anywhere.” Ken’s prediction proves to be true enough when Harry calls and directs him to a man named Yuri at Raamstraat 17, where Ken is ordered to pick up the gun he’ll use to murder Ray. Yuri provides Ken with a Beretta 92S semi-automatic pistol and a suppressor that “might be necessary”.
Beretta developed the 92S in 1977 as the first improved variant of the original Model 92 that was introduced just two years earlier. These pistols evolved from a half-century of Beretta innovation, retaining the alloy frame and open-slide design with a traditional double-action (DA/SA) trigger and double-stacked magazines that could feed 15 rounds or more of 9x19mm Parabellum ammunition. To meet the specifications of certain law enforcement agencies hoping to authorize the pistol, the new Beretta 92S included modifications that would be present through the rest of the series like a slide-mounted combined safety/decocker, though this was still only located on the left side.
When Beretta evolved the pistol into the Model 92SB introduced in 1980, this became an ambidextrous control with a lever on each side of the slide, in addition to the magazine release button relocated from the bottom of the butt to the increasingly more conventional location aside the trigger. These first variants in the Beretta 92 series all feature a rounded trigger guard, which would be more squared with the development of the Model 92F/FS in 1984, which would be made cinematically famous through its use in the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon franchises and remains one of the most commonly seen firearms in movies and TV.
The screen-used pistol shows plenty of wear, appropriate given its age (Beretta stopped producing the 92S by 1982) and the fact that Ken was likely intended to dispose of it after the job was complete.
Rossi Model 88
When Chloë’s jealous boyfriend Eirik (Jérémie Renier) threatens Ray with a snub-nosed Rossi Model 88 that is revealed to be loaded with blanks, Ray disarms Eirik of the weapon and fires it in his face at such close range that he blinds him in his left eye, leaving the man screaming on the floor about his lost vision. “Of course you can’t see, I just shot a blank in your fuckin’ eyes!” Ray explains.
Given the potential danger awaiting him in the form of his erstwhile partner-in-crime being assigned to kill him, Ray fortuitously keeps the weapon and swaps out the blank ammunition with five live rounds of .38 Special that he finds in Chloë’s apartment… though, ultimately, Ray proves to be his own biggest danger as he contemplates suicide.
Unlike semi-automatic handguns and submachine guns that need to be specifically modified to fire blanks (despite how simple Die Hard 2 made it look), revolvers typically need no such modification so Ray being able to swap out blanks for live rounds would be possible in real life.
Comparing his found sidearm to the silenced pistol assigned to Ken, Ray complains that “mine’s a bloody girl’s gun,” though I’d argue there’s hardly anything emasculating about a snub-nosed .38 Special. Ken ends up pocketing the revolver as Ray is “a suicide case,” a very responsible duty for a friend of someone undergoing a mental health crisis… even if that friend just moments earlier was attempting to carry out a hit on their pal.
IMFDB currently identifies Ray’s revolver as a Smith & Wesson Model 60, which likely served as an obvious inspiration for the Rossi Model 88. Not only are both stainless steel-framed .38 Special revolvers with five-round cylinders and two-inch barrels, but the similarities in the front ramp sight, cylinder release, and grips make it very clear why one may think the S&W revolver was used on screen. (Check out this brief Youtube video if you want to further compare each revolver’s respective design.)
Smith & Wesson 5903
In the flashback to Ray’s hit in London that resulted in the death of a priest (as intended) and a little boy (as not intended), we see that the gun Ray referenced being tossed into the Thames was a Smith & Wesson 5903 pistol.
The Model 5903 was developed as part of Smith & Wesson’s third and final generation of fully metal-framed semi-automatic pistols, produced through the ’90s. In addition to lines in .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 10mm, Smith & Wesson offered the full-size 5900 series and the smaller single-stack 3900 and double-stack 6900 series, all chambered in the universal 9x19mm Parabellum.
Each model number described what made each pistol unique; the “59” referred to being a part of the full-size 9mm lineup, while the “0” indicated a traditional double-action (DA/SA) trigger, and the “3” indicated an aluminum alloy frame as opposed to the heavier all-steel frame of the otherwise similar 5906.
The 3900, 5900, 6900 series and their differently chambered counterparts ended production by 2000 as Smith & Wesson shifted the focus for its semi-automatic pistols toward lighter polymer frames like its Sigma and M&P series pistols.
What to Imbibe
Bored to tears in their shared hotel room, Ray talks Ken into joining him for some nighttime sightseeing, knowing that Ken would be interested in the medieval architecture while Ray can content himself with taking pulls from a bottle of Leffe Blonde, an appropriately Belgian-produced abbey beer. Over the course of the same evening, Ray reports to having six pints and seven bottles of the 6.6% ABV beer, “and I’m not even pissed!”
The following evening, Ray takes Chloë out to dinner, where they are poured from a 1998 bottle of Château Haut Pingat, a relatively inexpensive Bordeaux produced from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes with a “silky and smooth” palate, according to EWGA Wines.
A Canadian woman (Stephanie Carey) at their neighboring table wields a bottle of the same to retaliate against Ray for punching out her boyfriend (Zeljko Ivanek), inadvertently triggering Ray’s anti-bottle defensive reflexes.
How to Get the Look
Ray illustrates how a black-and-white color palette doesn’t have to be boring, shaking up what could have been a somber black-suited dynamic with a frivolously printed shirt that he wears insouciantly untucked and with the top few buttons undone to show his henley.
- Charcoal herringbone woolen tweed single-breasted 3-button thigh-length topcoat with notch lapels, slanted welt side pockets, single-button strap cuffs, and single vent
- Black lightweight wool suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with pick-stitched notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and single vent
- Flat-front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, button-through back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White (with black geometric print) tonal-textured cotton shirt with spread collar, front placket, and button cuffs
- Pale-ecru cotton long-sleeved henley shirt with 5-button top and slate-striped inner placket
- Black leather belt with squared silver-toned single-prong buckle
- Black leather side-zip ankle boots
- Dark-gray cotton lisle socks with dark red and white patterned bands
- Tortoise rectangular-framed glasses
For reference, you can see Ray’s bloodied suit and topcoat displayed by the Irish Costume Archive Project.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
You can’t sell horse tranquilizers to a midget!
Ah so glad you covered this one, hilarious film and fun spin on the classic black suited hitman outfit. Hope you will cover better call Saul sometime and it’s wonderful suits!