by Jean O’Sullivan
Sensitive souls should stay away from “The Guard” (released in France under the unimaginative title “l’Irlandais”) which takes black humour and political incorrectness to new heights.
The title role is played by the imposing Brendan Gleeson, sergeant and law unto himself in a Connemara coastal village that is about to become the centre of a major drug-smuggling operation. Enter African-American FBI agent Don Cheadle and you have the unlikely pairing that is the key ingredient of all good comedies.
Is the Garda sergeant’s eccentricity and casual racism just a put-on? The FBI agent can’t decide. As they barrel along on the bumpy secondary roads of Connemara, he turns to the sergeant and says, “I don’t know if you’re really motherfucking stupid or really motherfucking clever”.
The script is full of surprises, including a hilarious standoff between the uncomprehending FBI man and a rabid Gaeilgeoir, as well as an unexpectedly tender mother-son relationship in the midst of the gangsterism. The excellent cast also includes duplicitous hookers and suitably villainous villains.
This is really Gleeson’s film and he brings out every nuance in John Michael Mc Donagh’s tightly-written script. The final scene is worthy of the shoot-out in the OK Corral in what is essentially a Western with a twist from the Wild West of Ireland.
The Guard : by John Michael McDonagh
With : Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham
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