Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Guard!


This little Irish independent flick caught my eye a few weeks back and I made a point of recording it. It has nested in among a dozen other things since, and yesterday I felt it was a nice time to give it a look. It's a hoot!

Brendan Gleeson stars in this offbeat movie as a member of the Garda Soichana, known to those folks he protects as simply a Guard. Sgt. Gerry Boyle is a character for the ages, a sometimes stern, sometimes philosophical, often ludicrous policeman who seems to care for his community but who is not above dropping a little LSD on the job and who routinely insults those around him while he skips out to catch a drink or play video games. On his off day he entertains prostitutes down from Dublin. All this terrible behavior is countered by the fact that Boyle is a fundamentally honest cop, at least he's honest in that he cannot be bought directly by drug dealers who are looking for a safe port to haul in a big shipment of cocaine. Also Gerry clearly loves his Mother who is reaching the end of her days in a nursing home and who wants more than anything to hear some live music.

Gleason's sizzling characterization is offset by a fun interpretation of an American FBI agent played by Don Cheadle who grows to respect Boyle reluctantly and cannot decide if he's brilliant or a dunce. The villains of the piece are a trio murdering drug dealers played to the hilt by Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham, and David Wilmot.  You really look forward to this trio showing up as the movie progresses. Fionnula Flanagan as Boyle's Mom is outstanding in a mere handful of scenes. There are a good half dozen other well drawn characters who add to the tapestry of this Galway.

This is an exceedingly well-crafted movie with bristling editing and some rough rustic Irish beauty to share alongside the signs of a well worn society.  I kept thinking this was like some darksome version of the Andy Griffith show, with Mayberry situated not in North Carolina but in Western Ireland and if Andy and Barney sometimes did cocaine. I won't say too much so as to not spoil it, you don't want it spoiled, but if you have the chance to see this weird black comedy, do so. It's a challenging and truly funny movie, a rare thing indeed in these days of snark passing for true wit.

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