Wednesday, February 15, 2012

THE GUARD: The Best Dark Comedy I've Seen In Years

THE GUARD is a dark comedy for adults, the best I've seen in a long time.  Much of the humor is intellectual, you might say, but a lot of it is also slapstick, lower-grade stuff.  I can't think of a movie to compare it to; it is that unique.

We saw it the day after I reviewed Adrian McKinty's COLD COLD GROUND, and the book had some of the same elements as the movie.  Gangsters; drug violence; bribes and extortion; religious, racial, and gender prejudice; casual sexual relations; jibes at the Brits, at Dublin, at the corruption of policemen in general.

It may sound like the usual, but it isn't.  Brendan Gleeson as Gerry Boyle is corrupt, but he is not conventionally corrupt.  He lives within an existential code of his own.

My favorite scene is where Gleeson and the FBI agent are about to confront the drug smugglers.  The FBI man says that he's sent for back-up, that they should wait for back-up, but Boyle knows that back-up won't be coming because the entire western coast of Ireland is on the take.

Like a lot of scenes in here, this one is underplayed, but you get it.  It's just you and me, Boyle tells him.  There will be no back-up.  Colexico then provides a suitable spaghetti western soundtrack at this point in the movie.

The entire soundtrack is witty, quirky, surprising.  They open the credits with John Denver's "Leaving On a Jet Plane," which makes you wonder if Boyle himself didn't come up with that one as he boards a plane on the way to a sequel.

I also especially loved a scene where the three main smugglers discuss philosophy and nothingness, all to comic effect.  The overall acting was splendid and none too serious, as you can tell by listening to the backstory comments on the DVD--where writer/director John Michael McDonagh teams up with the actors.

I know they are having trouble finding an actor capable of playing Cormac McCarthy's Judge Holden for the movie of Blood Meridan.  Maybe Gleeson could do it; he's big enough, with the right sense of humor.

We'll see.

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