Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Guard

I watched The Guard on the flight from Narita to Seattle today, and despite the tiny screen and being crammed into an uncomfortable seat, enjoyed it a lot.

There are obvious comparisons to be made with In Bruges. I can't decide if Mark Strong or Liam Cunningham is the one meant to be substituting for Fiennes' raging, phone-smashing character, but Brendan O'whatshisface has a larger presence as the boy Farrell isn't around for this.

It opens very strongly: the very first scene is a brilliant, sustained reversal of expectations, and the end does have a very tidy explosion. The middle wanders a bit and leaves more loose ends than strictly necessary, making me wonder if it's been excessively cut for the aeroplane. It seems strange to have one argument about whether Bertrand Russell was English or Welsh, a propos of nothing, and never return to it. Likewise, there's a scene set at an aquarium where the fish could symbolise something or foreshadow something else ... But they're just fish, is all.

Without wanting to be too negative, there is a touch of the Caffrey's advert about it: all Irish people are whimsical, and if they're not riding horses through council estates to advertise beer, then apparently they're zanily discovering Kalashnikovs in bogs / hitting people with blunderbusses / talking about amyl nitrate. It's not that I didn't like it, it's just it felt more like an accumulation of things the director thought would look cool, rather than something that's really tied together.

Still, they do a good job of creating an anti-hero with nothing to lose (and do so less unpleasantly than, say, Ryan Gosling in Drive) and it's a film that has a big fat Irish policeman flinging a cappucino across a lawn in the rain, which made me laugh. That's more than you could say for the 'rom'-'com' gloomfest One Day that I put myself through as well, and I don't want to talk about that.


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