If you haven’t watched The Guard yet, do it now! Rent it, Netflix it, order it on VOD, run to a theatre it might still be playing at…I don’t know. Just go and watch it. And then watch it again.
There is some absolutely killer writing, acting and directing at work here.
Quite honestly I don’t know where to begin. Perhaps I will start with the art direction and the way the frames are designed. Mental! In the best possible way. The way the colours are arranged, for maximum contrast and dramatic effect. That a blue mug is placed in a yellow-backed scene. That the titular Guard’s room is this deep beautiful green. Aaarggh! I don’t normally go on about the set decoration in a movie but these frames made me envious of the cinematographer. Larry Smith’s lens work really does to the art direction by Lucy van Lonkhuyzen some serious justice.
That out of the way, I can tell you that the Guard, Seargeant Gerry Boyle, as played by Brendan Gleeson, deserves a spot of honour in the pantheon of the great cinematic quirky characters of all time. This guy would have fantastic conversations with The Dude. This guy would totally rock Marla Singer’s world. This guy would befuddle The Joker.
Also, kudos to Don Cheadle for so effectively playing the straight man to Mr. Gleeson’s mischievous character. This is just fun time chemistry at work here even though this is Mr. Gleeson’s film, through and through. His calm but towering presence makes the difference in every scene he is in. Watching him take his time delivering his jibes and putdowns is a genuine pleasure.
And finally the writing and directing. It burns me right up to learn from IMDB that this is director John Michael McDonagh’s first feature film as a director and only his second as a writer. There is a lot of juicy material in this movie. Boyle’s relationship with his new partner’s wife. His relationship with his own sick mother. The fact that he orders in hookers on his day off. James Bond would never be able to pull it all off if he was a paunchy lad of advancing years. Great character work in a film that also serves as a zippy little yarn.
I thought Midnight In Paris was a good time at the movies but I have to say that The Guard was way, way more satisfactory for me. At the end of the day I suppose I am just a huge sucker for any kind of ‘the underdog is actually a cunning fox’ kind of story.
Mr. McDonagh and Mr. Gleeson, if I wore a hat I would doff it to you.