There has always been a vein of existential pondering in gangster films and violent thrillers, and generally it comes across as forced and self-conscious. As if one needs a discussion of metaphysics in order to offset the brutal violence. Few films give their characters satisfactory arcs of development because so much attention must be placed on action and spectacle. If there is one thing that writer/director Martin McDonagh achieves within the structure of In Bruges it is to bring an unusual amount of patience and deliberation to it. This is a very well thought out, literate and at times poetic film with some of the best dialogue exchanges you are ever likely to hear in cinema. In Bruges is all about character, almost entirely devoid of action (except for the final shoot out) the film is propelled along by its wit and an attention to detail and character motivation increasingly rare in commercial filmmaking. No doubt the film will be embraced by art cinema aficionados but the film retains enough generic signifiers to ensure lasting and popular appeal.