THE GUARD is a Western. The Wild West, in this case, being the West of
Ireland, where an isolated frontier town has for its lawman an eccentric
individual with a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and a heightened
sense of the absurd.
Sgt. Gerry Boyle takes nothing and no one seriously, but when a fellow police
officer disappears and the small town Boyle patrols becomes an important
location in the greater scheme of things, he is forced to at least feign
interest when dealing with the humorless FBI agent assigned to the case.
So what do we have here? We have an original lead character with a jaundiced,
melancholic outlook. We have three unpredictable villains. We have a bewildered
sidekick who has no idea what the hell is going on. We have action. And we have
a strange, unusual location: Connemara, whose landscape lends itself to a kind
of epic grandeur.
All in all, we have the ingredients for a visually-stylized, poetic,
widescreen film, with a mythic resonance and a darkly comic sense of humor, in
the classical tradition of John Ford and Preston Sturges.
The exciting and original films produced in US cinema in the Seventies are a
template that was followed, movies (whether dramas, comedies or thrillers) that
had a melancholy undertow to them, an evanescent quality that I sought to
capture throughout. Coupled with the kind of black comedy that is determinedly
reliant on the idiosyncratic and the unexpected, and a defiantly stylized
production and costume design, THE GUARD arrives out of left-field in relation
to UK and Irish filmmaking, and is a million miles away from recent downbeat
-- John Michael McDonagh
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