#226 / 365 – ‘The Guard’ – 96 mins
Cinema Challenge #89 / 115
Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is a small-town Irish cop with a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humor, a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international cocaine-smuggling ring that has brought straight-laced FBI agent Wendell Everett to his door.
After months of rave reviews ‘The Guard’ finally made an appearance in Cheltenham and my anticipation level was extremely high to say the least. Even Paul one of our film club members travelled to another country, Cardiff to see this, so it had better been worth the hype – and it was.
Writer and director John Michael McDonagh is the older brother of and writer and director Martin McDonagh. I mention this because John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard plays out very much like a brother piece, to Martin’s wonderful 2008 ‘In Bruges’, even sharing its main star, Brendan Gleeson.
Like In Bruges, this film has fantastic verbal flair in its dry humour, but I found The Guard dialogue funnier and at times a little smarter, with the context giving it additional punch. I loved the scenes when the drug traffickers make fun of their self-proclaimed roles as baddies, especially the self-parodying of the fantastic and ever reliable Mark Strong as Clive.
However it is Brendan Gleeson who steals the show and brings the most fun, with perfectly judged performance as the thoroughly engaging foul-mouthed, unorthodox weary Sergeant Boyle, and is a man who skips on the small moral matters but whose heart is in the right place on the big ones.
Mcdonagh has crafted a wonderful and unforgettable film in The Guard as he perfectly blends the black comedy with heartfelt drama, and it is one which will give off many repeated viewings. There must be a winning formula in that Irish water – or at least something in the water of the McDonagh family.