So the other night I’m watching TV and The Guard comes on and as it’s on my movie list I thought ‘just watch it’. Who cares about doing things in order anyway? Not me apparently. Plus it was on a channel that drops out and doesn’t record properly so, yeh, decision made. I have no idea what number it is on the list because its quite a few pages in (yes, pages) and I’ve counted that list once and I don’t intend to count it again without good reason. Maybe if someone threatened me with a piece of processed chicken (I’m allergic) at processed meat point, maybe then I’d count it again. Maybe.
So The Guard is an actually excellent film that contains most of my “that’s an excellent film” requirements. There’s funny, touching, mysterious, bad guys, good guys, in-between guys, sad, and … action!! The only thing missing is female characters. Two prostitutes and a wife do not make a Bechdel Test passing film. Damn. Admittedly the film did play on the ‘it’s still a man’s world out here in the Irish sticks’ a lot, so I won’t dwell on the Bechdel Test.
At times I found the Irish accent a little hard to understand but it didn’t ruin the film. (Having a whole pile of Irish DNA does not, unsurprisingly, make the accent easy to understand.)
The star of the piece is the grumpy garda (Irish Gaelic for cop – sort of) (Brendan Gleeson – glorious) and the straight man to grumpy garda’s wit is the American CIA agent, so straight it hurts Don Cheadle (glorious). The two are teamed up to find an international drug smuggling operation working through an out of the way port in Faraway, Ireland (not the town’s name at all).
Grumpy garda is grumpy and has his own offbeat ways of doing things. CIA agent is not and does not, he plays by the rules. This sounds like a classic set up, and it is, but grumpy garda is so understandable and strangely likeable (all down to the gloriousness of Brendan Gleeson I am sure) that I ended up wanting them to like each other and learn from each other and get the bad guys. Their interactions are very honest and at times hilarious while making me feel like I may have inadvertently learnt something by the end of their conversation. Nothing pans out quite as I expected and I like that.
Grumpy garda is a fully developed character and that kind of development is unusual for a film. There’s just not enough time in general. I felt like I knew him at the end and I wanted him to make it through all the baddies and the failed stings and the grumpiness of his everyday life. He is naughty and old and fat and lonely and jaded and he knows it and he doesn’t care. Yet he cares about others in his grumpy way (especially his Mum, bless his cotton socks).
The baddies were a bit of a let down as they were just super mean but they were drug dealers so why be so ‘kill everyone’ bad? I think they could have been a bit more subtle and their characters a little more developed. Being a gun for hire does not necessarily make you Mr Kill Everyone And It Makes Sense Because I’m Being Paid By The Boss. Basically they are classic baddies that you don’t care about because they are bad and they deserve badness.
Also, there is a gunfight and a big explosion. Action in an independent film that also has feeling and learnings, woah! Glorious!