Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Guard (DVD + BluRay Review)

DVD Review of the amazing dark comedy The Guard starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham & Mark Strong.

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Image Courtesy Alliance Films
Legal Line © Boyle Film Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Writer/Dir: John Michael McDonagh - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, Fionnula Flanagan, Rory Keenan, David Wilmot, Katarina Cas, Michael Og Lane
Ireland, 2011

Reason to see: Highly acclaimed and so far I've loved all the Irish films I've seen (being a wee bit Irish meself likely helps!)

The Guard is a dark comedy following Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) as a Irish policeman in community of County Galway which when a out-of-the-norm crime occurs, outside help arrives in the form of FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle). Although both are officers of the law, their styles and conduct could not be more different from one another if they tried, and they may in fact tie. A unique spin on comedy, this (non) buddy cop film forays into new territory of humour, crime and bizarre circumstance.

I was initially hesitant going into this one not thinking myself a fan of comedy but I am so glad that didn't sway me away as The Guard is brilliant. It left me howling in laughter while also being aghast, with the kind of humour that you don't think it's possible to get away with but works and is funny every, single time. Brendan Gleeson (Perrier's Bounty, Harry Potter series) is formidable in the lead here as the morally ambiguous and often brash Boyle, yet there is also a very sensible and regular folk quality to him as well as a quiet, beautiful kindness. In high contrast we see the straight-shooter, always elegant and proper Everett who brings more formality to every situation. To add to the awesome cast, we have a fantastic set of baddies including two actors I always love to see: Liam Cunningham (Centurion, The Escapist, 'Outcasts') and Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood (2010)). In fact Mark Strong as a British baddie delivers one of my favourite supporting performances of all of 2011. Extremely memorable and hauntingly dark.

The film plays beautiful with juxtaposition, with characters and situations seemingly ridiculous yet always perfect. Great timing, great chemistry, fantastic acting and a pretty freaking impressive story to boot. The Guard easily ranked high on both my Best Films of 2011 and Most Enjoyed Films of 2011. It's funny, and even though it's crass, brash and ballsy, the main characters aren't mean spirited which I think is ultimately what won me over.

The Guard if freaking brilliant. If I swore in my reviews I would swear for emphasis, but since I don't I'll get tell you to go see The Guard. I loved it and I highly recommend it.

DVD Extras:
  • Feature Commentary with director John Michael McDonagh and actors Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle pretty entertaining commentary although oddly you can 'hear' them watching the film as their is some silence in talk which is okay because the film is really entertaining and it's clear they had a fun time making it and enjoy the jokes and there is lots of interesting commentary about the response to the comedy pluse a fair amount of discussing/notation to the styling and colours of the film, the inspiration behind the film, the laughter to sophistication ratio, the jokes that went over the heads of the audience, things that were cut from the film, actor shout outs, film references, favourite lines, choices on line delivery, lots of notations to what gets a laugh & great reveals, the explanation of few extras, when they did their own stunts, the dynamic between Brendan Gleeson & Don Cheadle's characters, challenges with the weather, nods to westerns and funny stories from filming.
  • The Second Death - A Short Film that Inspired The Guard (11 minutes) directed by John Michael McDonagh and starring Liam Cunningham. Moody dark drama that's got a really impressive weight or remorse to it, and the ever-fabulous Liam Cunningham. Great DVD extra, and really happy to have a chance to see the short.
  • Deleted Scenes & Extended Scenes (20+ scenes, 24 minutes) tons of great scenes are found in this set of extended and deleted scenes including more buddy cop scenes schooling the newbie police officer, crime theories, police procedures, interviews plus family drama & character delvopement and some more great camradarie scenes Brendan Gleeson & Don Cheadle; great scenes although many it's understandable why they didn't make the final cut as even for this film feel quite controversial and others give some more clear direction when ambiguity served them well.
  • Outtakes (3 minutes) great moments, physical goofs, line flubs, funny tension and awesome laughter outbursts.
  • Behind-the-Scenes (18 minutes) behind the scenes of filming scenes including scene set up to filming, clowning around on set as well as interviews with actors Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, Rory Keenan, David Wilmot, Katarina Cas, Michael Og Lane,Fionnula Flanagan discussing their characters, the character histories & relationships and often specifically their connection or contrast to The Guard (Brendan Gleeson's) character and working with and impressions of writer/director John Michael McDonagh; as well as the actors on the ending of the film.
The Guard (2011) is available on DVD as of January 3, 2012. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I LOVED it - It ranked #5 in my Best Films of 2011 list and #6 Most Enjoyed Film of 2011
I have and will continue to watch it again, repeatedly
I highly & widely recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2012

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Brendan Gleeson (left) and Rory Keenan (right) star in THE GUARD, an Alliance Films release.

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Don Cheadle stars in THE GUARD, an Alliance Films release.

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David Wilmot (left), Liam Cunningham (center), and Mart Strong (right) star in THE GUARD, an Alliance Films release.

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