The Guard

52 Movies: Week 2


The Guard is an understated bit of neo-noir comedy with excellent characters and great performances.  It is one of my favorite movies of 2011.

The Guard is written and directed by John Michael McDonagh whose brother, Martin McDonagh, wrote and directed one of my favorite movies, In Bruges.  The brothers share a sensibility and both movies are marked by a dry humor and well realized characters.  Indeed, it is a testament to the character building that, while both movies are comedies, they are also both genuinely moving.

In The Guard, Brendan Gleeson plays Gerry Boyle, a Sargent in the Irish Guards.  Boyle is, in the great noir tradition,  unconventional and fiercely independent.  His moral code is deeply personal and bears no relation to the law of the land which he has sworn an oath to uphold but it is, nonetheless, a strong moral code. Boyle may do drugs and sleep with prostitutes but he may be the only clean cop in the county and when drug traffickers murder his partner, no amount of intimidation will stop him from his pursuit of justice.

 Don Cheedle plays Wendell Everett, a fish out of water FBI agent who serves as the perfect straight man to Boyle.  Boyle’s every line is deadpan and, at one point, Everett turns to him in astonishment and remarks, “I can’t tell if you’re really motherfucking dumb or really motherfucking smart.”

Like his brother’s movie In Bruges, I loved The Guard because it was so well written.  McDonagh does not feel the need to spell every last thing out and the movie, like its main character, leaves plenty of room for people to draw their own conclusions.

I was going to give The Guard four stars but, as with my last review, I have talked myself into adding a star so this one gets the full five stars.


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