From one Irish film to the next, the Emerald Isle really does have it’s fair share, doesn’t it? The Guard has been the top of my ones to watch list for quite a while now, and it feels like I’m probably the last person in the world to see it. You know, it being the most commercially successful Irish film of all time, and all.
Developed in the funny cranium of John Michael McDonagh (that’s the brother of equally funny In Bruges brainbox Martin), The Guard is, quite simply, one of the funniest films I have seen all year. In fact, it’s the only comedy I’ve seen this year, but even if I had seen seventeen or so comedies, this would probably still come out on top.
Brendan Gleeson is sergeant Gerry Boyle. Policing a small suburb just outside of Dublin can be a bit of a bore, but Gerry’s life is about to be turned upside town with the arrival of a yanky cop (that’s Don Cheadle, to you), a couple of dead bodies, and a bunch of cocaine smugglers. Describing it in that way doesn’t really sell the film. In fact, the reason why the film works isn’t because of the story at all, but the dialogue that joins it all up. Aside from that, it’s pretty pleasantly shot with some nice set pieces (i.e. – Gleeson groin scratching/shootout around half way through).
Taking up about 90% of the screen time, it’s a whole bunch of Gleeson that you’ll have to tangle your head around. Don’t worry, it’s all worth it, for my money, this is the best role I’ve ever seen him in. He really chews the fat here and every word is delivered with such effortless timing that it’s nothing but a joy to watch him here in all his golden glory. Don Cheadle does alright too as the slightly wooden, by-the-book American official, although I always question his abilities as an actor. Sure, he’s standing in the right place and saying the right things, but one can’t help but think he’s phoning it in a bit. Nevertheless, Don’s role here doesn’t deter you from what is a pretty rambunctious little film.
It’s really refreshing that McDonagh isn’t afraid to push audience buttons with some of the humour on show, dealing pretty frankly with archaic racism that one can imagine exists in these particularly fusty villages. Obviously ironical, McDonagh illustrates that he is really able to pack in the gags, leaving the film spewing at the seams with jolly good banter.
My favourite (honorary) home-grown comedy since Submarine. Is it better than In Bruges? Two words – feck yes!