An Irish made movie starring Brendan Gleeson is tipped for box office success after being well received by critics at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
One writer has described the black comedy as being the summer’s independent movie hit; with it likely to match the success of In Bruges and even last summer’s box office success The King’s Speech.
The movie, set in Galway, centres around a world weary Garda Sergeant Gerry Boyle, played by Gleeson. Tired of the job, he shows no interest when a member of the FBI (Don Cheadle) arrives in town to investigate an international cocaine smuggling ring.
Directed by John Michael McDonagh, brother of In Bruges writer and director Martin McDonagh, which was nominated for a screenplay Oscar.
The Guard was critically well received in the US when it was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with The Hollywood Reporter saying: "Scabrous, profane, violent, verbally adroit and very often hilarious, this twisted and exceptionally accomplished variation on the buddy-cop format is capped by a protean performance by Brendan Gleeson."
Although director McDonagh admits he was not sure how the movie would be received Stateside: “I was nervous when we took the film to Sundance,” says McDonagh.
“You wonder how people will respond to a film like ours in middle America, but they were laughing from the beginning to end. At certain points there’d be shocked laughter when people couldn’t believe what the main character says.”
Gleeson’s character Gerry Boyle has provoked a lot of reaction for his penchant for prostitutes and dabbling in drugs. “He’s a bit of a maverick, and he does take the odd illegal substance,” says Gleeson. “But, at the same time, he has a ferocious honesty. He’s not a rigid stickler for the letter of the law: if it’s nonsensical and not really in the human interest he has no real time for it.”
The character has some lines that have raised a few eyebrows at screenings. “I thought only black lads were drugs dealers” and “I’m Irish; racism is part of my culture” being have attracted some comments in online discussions. But one writer justifies his comments as saying more about those around him than his own true feelings.
Don Cheadle who plays the role of the FBI man, is also an executive producer on the movie, and helped sell and promote the movie in the US, has dismissed any allegations of racism. According to McDonagh: “That reassures the audience. Don’s a really well-respected actor and he wouldn’t be in this film if it were essentially racist. Some people who don’t see beyond the surface could read Brendan’s character in that way, but he isn’t really racist.”
Cheadle explains his role and why he wanted to be a part of the movie “I always thought that the way in which it deals with race was so over-the-top and was done in such a humorous and tongue-in-cheek way that I thought it was very palatable,” says the star of Hotel Rwanda.
“It just made me laugh. I felt as if it was clear that the film was pushing the boundaries of what is funny. It hit those buttons where the intention was clear. It felt to me a little like In Bruges, with that dark, black humour.”
'The Guard’ opens in Ireland next month.