September 13, 2011

MOVIES: The Guard (John Michael McDonagh, 2011)

The Guard is a showcase for Brendan Gleeson, who plays Gerry Boyle, a cop in a small town near Galway. It's a place where a simple murder is an event out of the norm, so when the FBI arrives looking for help catching a group of drug smugglers, everyone is both excited and somewhat on edge. Don Cheadle plays the FBI's Wendell Everett, a by-the-books uptight sort, and the movie is about the uneasy working relationship of the two men.

It's also a movie about casual prejudice. Boyle assumes that Everett grew up in "the projects," rather than skiing in Aspen and attending Yale. The Irish hate the English, the English hate the Irish, everyone keeps assuming that one cop's Croatian wife is Romanian, and everybody hates the Welsh. The dialogue is sharply funny and often weirdly meandering; it's the kind of movie where Boyle sits in a soda shop with one of the drug dealers arguing about the mysteries of "Ode to Billie Joe."

Writer/director John Michael McDonagh happens to be the brother of Martin McDonagh, writer/director of In Bruges, and there's something running in that family that I wish I could catch.

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