Wednesday 17 August 2011

The Guard

First off, despite what you might have heard, The Guard is nothing like In Bruges. It's got Brendan Gleeson in it and it's written and directed by In Bruges' director's brother, but that's it. In fact, it differs from In Bruges in one massive sense: The Guard is actually quite good.
Pointless comparisons and unpopular opinions aside, The Guard is one of those micro-budget films that succeeds on the strength of its script, and on the subtle but memorable performance of its lead actor. It's also one of those films that has a bizarrely high number of completely different posters floating around the internet, almost challenging Harry Potter for the title of Most Over-Postered Film:
I said "almost".

On the surface it's about a vaguely amoral policeman - he's happy to snarf drugs from crime scenes and employ the services of prostitutes on his days off but he's the only honest plod in Galway - and an impending drug deal, but at its heart it's a razor-sharp look at xenophobia, where characters from all over the world fail to function properly because they simply don't understand anyone from another country / city / postcode. Italy, the US, Britain, Ireland and especially Dublin all appear incomprehensible to somebody at some point, as if Galway is the world's most diverse but dysfunctional melting pot.

It's not a wall-to-wall LOLgasm so much as a wry grinfest, with Gleeson playing the part of a man who may be a genius, an idiot or both, and doing it so well that a second viewing may be necessary to try and nail him down. The supporting cast are also spot-on, and special mention must go to Don Cheadle, who by day wears eye-wateringly beautiful suits as befits his deliberately stereotypical FBI agent character, but by night unleashes beasts like this:
The action-not-quite-packed climax feels a little out of place, and is evidently all that those who've described this film as "Hot Fuzz meets In Bruges" can remember, but as a character piece The Guard is a welcome dessert after all that rich crap you've been shoving in your face at the multiplex over the summer.

That's the second food metaphor I've used to describe a film this week. If I do it again you have permission to hurt me.


  1. Re: IN BRUGES (which is now inevitably going to get discussed here). I don't really like it either. At best it is OK and I'm not even sure its that. Gave it 2/5. Laughed more at the trailer for the above.

  2. Me likey "In Bruges" Mr Incredible Suit, but I did watch Animal Kingdom the other day after your recommendations and have to agree with you that it is a damn fine film so all is forgiven.

    'bout time Don Cheadle got something good to work on so am looking forward to checking this out.

  3. I will be having a second helping. I was longing for a good dessert and wolfed this down. I'll be more observant with the second helping savouring every mouthful. This movie is laced with Bushmills & Bourbon.