Illustration: Adeline Pericart
So Film Ireland magazine is 25 years old. Over those years Ireland has produced some great films which have been successful both here and abroad – not to mention nabbing a few Oscars® along the way. And so over the next couple of weeks Film Ireland‘s army of cinema dwellers look back over the last 25 years and recall their favourite Irish films in the latest installment of…
25 Years of Irish Film
(John Michael McDonagh, 2011)
‘… the movie correctly wraps itself around Gleeson, whose deadpan delivery of his subversive, and often shocking, sense of humour powers the film along…’
It is just me, or were most Irish movies completely devoid of fun? That’s not to say they were bad, but they weren’t exactly a joy to watch, since they were usually awash with the Troubles or dealing with some kind of abuse. We were the frontrunners when it came to making depression porn. But then the McDonagh brothers came along with their one-two punch of In Bruges (which, despite all the Irish-ness involved, can’t really be labelled an Irish film) and The Guard (which, thankfully, can).
Also delivering a killer one-two was Brendan Gleeson, who helped ground In Bruges, but is primarily the main reason The Guard soars so highly, with ‘high’ being the operative word, as we’re first introduced to his Sergeant Gerry Boyle taking acid which he has taken from the pocket of a very recently deceased car-crash victim. His racist, alcoholic, drug-taking, prostitute-loving, IRA-dealing character is so all consuming that it takes a repeat viewing to be reminded that the movie also features such usual heavyweights such as Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong.
Now then, what have we here…
While the international cocaine smuggling ring plot seems like a take-it-or-leave-it afterthought, the movie correctly wraps itself around Gleeson, whose deadpan delivery of his subversive, and often shocking, sense of humour powers the film along, as his unwanted FBI partner Cheadle interrogates the locals, who respond with an Irish interpretation of what we think America thinks of Ireland, all impenetrable accents, unending rainfall and unquenchable thirsts for alcohol.
While it’s not all played for laughs (Boyle’s interactions with his dying mother are quietly heart-breaking), the film knows not to stay too serious for too long, and at 96 minutes, it’s not around long enough to outstay its welcome. Which is another nice change of pace for Irish film, or as the Sergeant would put it, ‘They take too long getting to the fecking point.’