The Guard

The Guard
Release Date: 19th August 2011
Director: John Michael McDonagh 
Rating: 18
Reprisal Films

A bunch of kids smeared across the road from a bit of drug driving. A grey sky reflecting a grey sea washing against the grey rocks. A guard walks by with a tired expression eroded permanently onto his face. What a beautiful fucking day. 

The Guard is an Irish tale of a Guard called Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) who seems to be in his own little world. He does what he wants and his fellow colleagues just can’t handle he casual racism and slightly dodgy pass times. When a bunch of drug deals are up to no good in the area, Boyle happens to be the only cop who can’t be  bought and so much black mail, murder and swearing is partaken in. It’s time for Boyle and FBI agent Everett (Don Cheadle) to clean up the streets. Which looks like a pretty tough job when you see the place they’re at.

The film has a similar dark vibe to the morbidly funny In Bruges (the directors are brothers), though this isn’t quite as smart or dramatic as that fucking classic. Some of the comments Boyle makes often seem placed in to shock rather than to flow, and the pace is fairly sloppy, sometimes feeling a bit lost as the plot snaps together rather awkwardly. A bit like Everett’s FBI skills. But these are only minor quibbles, as once you adapt to the gorgeous Irish landscapes and their beautiful inhabitants, the occasional stutter and tacky black jokes fall into the piss scented sea of Ireland.

A grim Ireland is contrasted by garish interiors and vehicles which really strike the eyes. Seeing a kid pulling a pink bike around is almost blinding, and it helps form an unusual style which emphasises the absurdity of it all. A Western style soundtrack also adds to the strong personality The Guard struts around with; a strut which isn’t one bit cocky. Seeing a miserable chunky cop running down a soggy field to a spaghetti western theme is something rather magical. And somewhat poignant really. Throw colours and a funky track over the reality and you still have a miserable cop doing his best to get by when he has no one around him. It’s the mix of personal tragedy and twisted humour which makes the McDonaghs sparkle grey and orange. Still doesn’t make me want to visit Ireland.



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