The Guard (2011 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Michael McDonagh|
|Written by||John Michael McDonagh|
|Edited by||Chris Gill|
|Box office||$19.6 million|
The Guard is a 2011 buddy cop comedy film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong and Liam Cunningham. The film was a co-production of companies in Ireland, the UK and the US.
The film received critical acclaim and was a box office success. Both Gleeson and Cheadle received acclaim for their performances, with Gleeson receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination. McDonagh was in turn nominated for a BAFTA Award for his writing achievement. It is the most successful independent Irish film of all time in terms of Irish box-office receipts, overtaking The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006), which previously held this status.
Sergeant Gerry Boyle is an officer of the Garda Síochána in Connemara in the west of Ireland. He is crass and confrontational, regularly indulging in drugs and alcohol even while on duty. He is also shown to have a softer side, showing concern for his ailing mother, Eileen.
Boyle and his new subordinate, Aidan McBride, investigate a murder, with evidence apparently pointing to an occult serial killer. Shortly after, Boyle attends a briefing by FBI agent Wendell Everett, sent to liaise with the Garda in hunting down four Irish drug traffickers, led by Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, who is believed to be awaiting a delivery of cocaine. Boyle recognises one of the men in Everett's presentation as the victim of the murder he and McBride had been investigating. McBride pulls over a car driven by Sheehy and his lieutenants Clive Cornell and Liam O'Leary and is shot dead. McBride's wife, Gabriela, reports McBride's disappearance to Boyle, who promises to look into it.
The strait-laced Everett and the unorthodox Boyle are teamed up to track down Sheehy and his men but, while Everett makes the rounds, encountering language difficulties and uncooperative residents, Boyle has a sexual encounter with a pair of prostitutes at a hotel in town. On his way back from the hotel, Boyle spots McBride's Garda car at a "suicide hotspot" along the coast, but does not believe that McBride killed himself. Meeting Everett at a local bar, Boyle notices a CCTV camera and remembers that the original suspect in the murder case claimed to be frequenting the very same establishment at the time of the killing. Looking over the footage from the time of the murder, they see that the suspect's alibi is valid–and Everett also spots Sheehy and Cornell at the bar at the same time. Meanwhile, Cornell delivers a payoff to the Garda inspectors to keep them off the case, but Sheehy believes that Boyle will not be so easily swayed, after he meets with Boyle to half-heartedly attempt blackmail and then to offer a bribe, which is refused.
Tipped off by a young boy named Eugene, Boyle discovers a cache of weapons hidden in the marshes by the IRA and arranges its return to an IRA member. After having her last wish to hear a live pub band fulfilled, Boyle's mother dies. Meeting at the bar again, Everett tells Boyle that Garda sources indicate Sheehy's shipment will be coming into County Cork and that he is leaving to investigate. Returning home, Boyle is confronted in his living room by O'Leary. Boyle pulls a gun and kills O'Leary, then calls Everett to tell him that the Cork lead is a decoy arranged by corrupt officers. Boyle drives to the local dock where Sheehy's vessel is berthed and Sheehy's men are unloading the cocaine. Everett arrives and is persuaded to give Boyle covering fire as he moves to arrest Sheehy and Cornell. Boyle kills Cornell before leaping onto the boat to deal with Sheehy. Everett’s gunfire sets the boat alight. Boyle shoots Sheehy and leaves him for dead in the main cabin as the boat explodes.
The next day, Everett looks out on the water where the boat sank, believing Boyle to be dead. Eugene, standing nearby, mentions that Boyle was a good swimmer, having claimed to have been placed fourth at the 1988 Summer Olympics, a claim that Everett had dismissed. A young photographer comments that it would be easy enough to look up. Everett remembers Boyle’s remark that Sheehy’s backers would not forget Boyle’s actions, and that Boyle would have to disappear.
- Brendan Gleeson as Sergeant Gerry Boyle
- Don Cheadle as FBI Agent Wendell Everett
- Mark Strong as Clive Cornell
- Liam Cunningham as Francis Sheehy-Skeffington
- Fionnula Flanagan as Eileen Boyle
- Michael Óg Lane as Eugene Moloney
- David Wilmot as Liam O'Leary
- Sarah Greene as Sinéad Mulligan
- Darren Healy as Jimmy Moody
- Rory Keenan as Garda Aidan McBride
- Dominique McElligott as Aoife O'Carroll
- Katarina Čas as Gabriela McBride
- Dermot Healy as old farmer
- Pat Shortt as Colm Hennessy
- Laurence Kinlan as young photographer
Film producers include Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe, with executive producers Paul Brett, Don Cheadle, Martin McDonagh (brother of John Michael), David Nash, Ralph Kamp, Lenore Zerman and associate producer Elizabeth Eves. Director John Michael McDonagh is known for his screenplay for the 2003 film Ned Kelly and as writer/director of the 2000 film The Second Death. Cinematographer Larry Smith is known for his work on Eyes Wide Shut and production designer John-Paul Kelly for his work on Venus.
Principal filming began on 29 October 2009, in Leitir Móir (Lettermore) County Galway. Filming took place over a six-week period in Connemara, Leitir Móir, Leitir Mealláin (Lettermullen), An Spidéal, and Bearna with some scenes for filming in Wicklow and Dublin. Involved companies are Reprisal Films and Element Pictures in association with Prescience, Aegis Film Fund, UK Film Council and Crescendo Productions, with the participation of An Bord Scannán na hÉireann (Irish Film Board).
International sales were handled by Metropolis Films and the film was released by Element Pictures Distribution in Ireland, Optimum Releasing in the United Kingdom, Sony Pictures Classics in the United States and Alliance Films in Canada.
Reviews for The Guard were overwhelmingly positive. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 94% approval rating with an average rating of 7.6/10 based on 125 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "A violent, crackerjack comedy with a strong Irish flavor and an eminently likable Brendan Gleeson in the main role." On the review aggregator Metacritic, the film has a score of 78 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
In The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy wrote: "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 a defiantly iconoclastic West of Ireland policeman." Vanity Fair's John Lopez wrote: "So far, The Guard has been the most thoroughly enjoyable film experience at Sundance, a nice change of pace from the anomie, alienated angst and melancholy of other films. In Screen International, David D'Arcy wrote: "As a director, McDonagh avoids the grand gesture and focuses on his web of odd characters that call to mind the comedies of Preston Sturges." Justin Chang of Variety wrote: "The film making crackles with energy, from Chris Gill's crisp editing and Calexico's ever-inventive score to d.p. Larry Smith's dynamic camerawork, alternating between bright, almost candy-coloured interiors and shots of Galway's grey, rugged landscape."
In The Times, Wendy Ide wrote: "Without doubt the strongest debut film of the year so far, this sly, witty and provocative Irish black comedy is an exceptionally funny crowd-pleaser and a playful cine-literate exercise, laced with arcane movie references... Gleeson must be thanking whatever guardian angel oversees his career for the brothers McDonagh giving him two of his meatiest roles yet." Georgie Hobbs of Little White Lies wrote: "Unexpectedly hilarious, The Guard is the triumphant directorial debut of Ned Kelly screenwriter (and brother of In Bruges director Martin), John Michael McDonagh... This confident film knows full well how funny it is, daring to provoke with unfettered 'unPCness' a-plenty."
|Award / Film Festival||Year of Ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Golden Globe Award||2012||Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||Brendan Gleeson||Nominated|||
|BAFTA Award||2012||Best Original Screenplay||John Michael McDonagh||Nominated|||
|Australian Film Critics Association Award||2012||Best Overseas Film (English-Language)||The Guard||Nominated|||
|Berlin International Film Festival||2011||Best Debut Film - Honorable Mention||The Guard||Won|||
|BET Award||2012||Best Actor||Don Cheadle||Nominated|||
|British Independent Film Award||2011||Best Actor in a British Independent Film||Brendan Gleeson||Nominated|||
|Best Screenplay||John Michael McDonagh||Nominated|
|Douglas Hickox Award||Nominated|
|Black Reel Award||2012||Best Supporting Actor||Don Cheadle||Won|||
|Casting Society of America||2012||Outstanding Achievement in Casting - Feature - Studio or Independent Comedy||Jina Jay||Nominated|||
|Crime Thriller Award||2012||The Film Dagger||The Guard||Nominated|||
|Dinard British Film Festival||2011||Audience Award||John Michael McDonagh
|Coup de Coeur||Won|
|Kodak Award for Best Cinematography||Larry Smith
|Silver Hitchcock||The Guard||Won|
|Evening Standard British Film Award||2011||Peter Sellers Award for Comedy||The Guard||Won|||
|Best Actor||Brendan Gleeson||Won|
|Best Screenplay||John Michael McDonagh||Won|
|NAACP Image Award||2012||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture||Don Cheadle||Nominated|||
|Irish Film and Television Award||2012||Best Film||Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez Marengo, Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe||Won|||
|Best Director - Film||John Michael McDonagh||Won|
|Best Script - Film||John Michael McDonagh||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress - Film||Fionnula Flanagan||Won|
|Best Actor - Film||Brendan Gleeson||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor - Film||Liam Cunningham||Nominated|
|Best International Actor||Don Cheadle||Nominated|
|Best Production Design (Film/TV Drama)||John Paul Kelly||Nominated|
|Best Sound (Film/TV Drama)||Robert Flanagan, Michelle Cunniffe and Niall Brady||Nominated|
|London Film Critics Circle Award||2011||British Film of the Year||The Guard||Nominated|||
|Breakthrough British Filmmaker||John Michael McDonagh||Nominated|
|British Actor of the Year||Brendan Gleeson||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society Award||2011||Best Actor||Brendan Gleeson||Nominated|||
|Sarajevo Film Festival||2011||Audience Award for Best Feature Film||The Guard||Won|||
|Satellite Award||2011||Best Director||John Michael McDonagh||Nominated|||
|Best Actor - Motion Picture||Brendan Gleeson||Nominated|
|Best Original Screenplay||John Michael McDonagh||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Chris Gill||Won|
|Sundance Film Festival||2011||World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic||The Guard||Nominated|||
|Valladolid International Film Festival||2011||Best Actor||Brendan Gleeson||Won|||
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