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Brendan Gleeson is a comedic genius. Thats my verdict after watching this film. After a friend recommended this film I though I would give it a go. 5 minutes into this film I was crying with laughter. It is a black comedy that really tickles the funny bone. Brendan Gleeson, a guarda member who has a not so clean lifestyle, drinking and prostitutes fed up with his work takes everything with a pinch of salt works with Don Cheedle, a FBI agent hunting a drug bust, make a dynamic duo full of laughs. Don Cheedle plays the straight character however delivers some brilliant laughs. I don't want to say too much about the plot to so it doesnt spoil anything but its a strong plot that lasts a decent length to not feel too long and just long enough to leave you satisfied. Overall a film I can not rate high enough that I think everyone should watch not knowing too much about it so you can truly enjoy it
'Unless you're about to show me a picture of a really ugly baby, I don't want to see it'. This is the reason I love this film so much.
I almost stopped writing this review after I wrote that because it so perfectly encapsulates why I enjoyed this film as much as I did. I first saw it in 2011 when it came out in the cinema. At the time I worked for a well known cinema chain and got to see all the films for free, and I went to see literally everything that was released.
This was not a film that was heavily publicised, nor was it something I had even seen a trailer for before I went to go and see it. I pretty much had no expectations and so was pleasantly surprised when what I saw was probably the funniest film of the year (and I can make that judgement, because I'd seen pretty much ever film released in 2011).
The film is probably best described as a black comedy and though there are many moment where I full on guffawed in the cinema, it isn't designed as a laugh out loud film. By that I mean it isn't one of those film jam packed with mediocre jokes to please the majority. The jokes are dark, often offensive and cleverly plays on established stereotypes.
The film centres around Boyle (Brendan Gleeson), an unorthodox and unpredictable Garda (Irish policeman). Boyle is in his sixties (I'm guessing) and certainly doesn't play by the rules. By that I mean he interferes with crime scenes, he removes drugs from criminals and then openly uses them, he hires prostitutes who dress up as police women for him and he has absolute disregard for political correctness.
When a drug shipment is expected to dock in Boyle's rural town his station becomes inundated with FBI agents, and he must work alongside American agent Everett (Don Cheadle). Boyle is hilariously dismissive of the entire operation and approaches it as he would any minor misdemeanour. As the two forces try to work together to snare this international drug smuggling gang there is a tangible clash of cultures.
Through a web of bribery, blackmail and murder this unlikely pair form an alliance. Everett's aggressive determination and Boyle's bumbling glibness make a hilarious pairing as you watch them attempt top get to the bottom of this crime and keep one step ahead of the notorious gang members. I won't spoil the ending but there is an explosive and bloody climax to this film which contrasts nicely with the mundaneness of the surroundings and the everyday people inhabiting the village.
The entire film is undercut by a fantastic dry and dark humour which elevates the plotline and introduces some truly funny moments. The comedy acting in this film is better than any I've seen in a really long time, and Brendan Gleeson really is the making of this film as Boyle.
Underneath the humour there is also a real heart to this film which makes it very special. You follow in parts the story of Boyle and his dying mother. This is not handled in an overly sentimental or dramatic way. The implications are subtle and the tone, though warm, is also deeply and darkly funny.
The ending to the film provides a subtle and very funny twist which plays on earlier elements of the film. Boyle is assumed throughout by most of the other characters to be a bumbling idiot who takes nothing seriously. The ending switches this round and makes you wonder whether he might have been the mastermind behind much of the success of the operation.
I bought this on DVD soon after it came out and paid around £10 for it. I was pretty happy to buy it full price as a new release as I enjoyed it so much and really wanted to own it on DVD and watch it again. I would advise you shop around for the cheapest deal obviously, unless like me you loved it and want to own it as soon as you can.
Overall, I think this is a fantastic, understated and darkly humorous film which will literally blow your socks off. Watch it now.
Star - Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle
Run time - 96 minutes
Genre - Comedy
Certificate - 15
Country - Ireland
Awards - BAFTA win and Golden Globe nomination
The Guard is the most successful independent Irish film of all time in terms of Irish box-office receipts, overtaking Ken Loaches 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley' (2006) which previously held the record, beating classics like The Commitments, The Snapper, My left foot and The Name of the Father. The Guard is better than Loaches film but not the above, quickly resorting to that Father Ted cliché that all the Irish are quirky, a bit thick and like the 'craic', endearing us to their films and also earning American interest from their large Irish immigrant population. If one country's films define a nation it has to be Irelands.
The film's writer/director, John Michael McDonagh, is the brother of Martin McDonagh, who had directed Brendan Gleeson, the star here, in the acclaimed and rather excellent 'In Bruges'. And it shows as this film has echoes of his brother's work, in feel and its dark comedy, the always excellent Gleeson playing another fish out of water erudite character here. The addition of the talented Don Cheadle to presumably secure funding is an eclectic and abstract delight against the authentic Irish countryside background and its quirky characters that inhabit it.
* Brendan Gleeson as Sergeant Gerry Boyle
* Don Cheadle as FBI Agent Wendell Everett
* Liam Cunningham as Francis Sheehy-Skeffington
* Michael Og Lane as Eugene Moloney
* David Wilmot as Liam O'Leary
* Mark Strong as Clive Cornell
* Fionnula Flanagan as Eileen Boyle
* Sarah Greene as Sinéad Mulligan
* Rory Keenan as Garda Aidan McBride
* Dominique McElligott as Aoife O'Carroll
* Katarina Čas as Gabriela McBride
* Darren Healy as Jimmy Moody
* Pat Shortt as Colm Hennessy
Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson), an older rural copper with the Galway Garda (the Irish police force), patrols the tranquil costal streets of Connemara on his own terms, just as likely to tell the IRA that he has found one of their old arms caches ad would they like it back as he is to be reading Proust on his tea break in the squad car, a fondness for kinky prostitutes and his subversive sense of humor further factors not conducive to his career choice.
Sergeant Gerry Boyle: 'I'm Irish. Racism is part of my culture'.
When he gets a new young copper on his manner, Constable Aidan McBride (Rory Keenan), he soon has two dead bodies on his hand, that of local drug dealer Brenda Foley (Paddy O'Donny) and the young Constable, both shot in the head for their troubles.
Over from America is FBI Agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), who has tracked the American side of a drugs ring to Connemara, where he thinks the gang are hanging about so to receive a half-a-billion dollar shipment. Teaming up with Everett, Boyle is not convinced, and doesn't want to work his day off to crack the case anyway. There's never enough time in the day for loner Boyle to do so little in the art of policing. But when they connect the constable's death to the gang and Boyles mum dies of cancer in the local hospice he emotionally kicks into action, promising McBride's surprisingly attractive Polish wife Gabriela (Katarina Čas) that he will find the killer or killers. But he is the only one who doesn't have an angle on the killing and will have to go it alone; Everett convinced the smugglers have long since gone.
Francis Sheehy: Who was up there firing that cannon?
Sergeant Gerry Boyle: The FBI lad, probably hadn't had this much fun since they burned all those kids up in Waco
You only need open your mouth as an Irish comic and you will get a stand up show on the telly, such is the comic value of the accent. Like Scousers, they can read the phonebook up on stage and people will laugh, why Irish films have a certain predictable comic potential. With Gleeson on board with a cracking script in his hand, Irelands most gifted big man, you can't lose.
It's good but not quite as good as the dust cover suggests, but still a must see for non mainstream comedy fans, the Guard, not America Pie, my kind of comedy. It's darkly comic as it is melancholic and very country Irish with licks of spoken Gaelic, a delicious cynical side to the main protagonists we don't get to see enough of in our domestic comedy these PC times. Right from the opening scenes of Boyle's phlegmatic reaction to a car crash you not only know Gleeson is going to be on top form and very naughty here but you are going to laugh along with him, as you did for The Commitments.
A lot of the humor in the film comes from that running gag in Hot Fuzz where the young constable and Boyle try to add some American policing style and slang to their job to pass the day in trundling Connemara. But it's Gleeson who makes this a trip worth taking and although some of it makes little sense and often silly its done in a way you don't notice and so the action moves forward at a suitable pace. I did laugh on a few occasions, even at the ridiculous bits, Cheadle very happy to send himself up as that Virgil Tibbs copper out of his comfort zone. The eccentric noisy soundtrack is also a little bonkers but somehow fits.
It did ok for its $6 million with $17 million back so far, the stars picking up most of that, no doubt. But the two have chemistry and a pleasant surprise to see them together in such low key film. My only grumble would have to be that they didn't get naughtier in it with the cheeky and naughty script ad characters. I have a feeling a sequel is already on the cards.
Imdb.com 7.4/10.0 (25, 425 votes)
Metacritic.com - 78% critics approval rating
Rottentomatos.com -92% critic's approval rating
The Guardian - 'The always-unbeatable Gleeson is on simply outstanding form, conjuring a character both dignified and ridiculous, heroic and hardly bothered'.
Time Out - 'A hugely entertaining but frustratingly disorganized film, packed with priceless moments which never quite coalesce into a rewarding whole'.
The Irish Times - 'Among the most purely entertaining films of the year which cuts its laughter with a dose of Celtic melancholy'
The Times - 'John Michael McDonagh is having a lot of fun deconstructing the cop procedural in
The Guard, because almost nothing goes as planned and everything has a satirical bent. It is a very funny black comedy with a stylish palette'.
The NY Times - 'Writer-director John Michael McDonagh's film plays like a cynical, foul-mouthed version of "In the Heat of the Night'.
Director and cast have fun talking over the top of their cheeky comedy.
-Behind the Scenes-
A less serious look at the making of the film, Gleeson funny of set as Cheadle is awkward.
- Deleted Scenes-
Quite a few of them, which could explain the potholes in the plot.
- Outtakes -
As is the case with these films there are a lot of shenanigans going on after the clapperboard clicks.
- Short Film -
'The Secret Death'
The film is based around this short.