The Guard

The Guard strikes me as the sort of film critics describe as ‘a gem’, a suitably non committal phrase utilised primarily when there is a clear realisation that something is good, very good, but when the writer has absolutely no idea really why that is the case. Critics do, overwhelmingly, love this film, as do I. However if you read their reviews they are completely all over the place in terms of how they are speaking about the film. This is because The Guard is a kind of genre smorgasbord, a vague whiff of detective movie, buddy pic, fish out of water story, action comedy, it has a little of everything. Bleak jokes about the IRA, murders and murderers, as well as a default weather somewhere between cloudy and just about raining means no one is discussing this in purely comedic terms, it probably has something to say about just about every pressing cultural and political issue in Western Ireland, though I’d be hard pressed to weed out all those references. Equally, it does follow a fairly traditional buddy pic formula, but there is ample time for an out of his town FBI agent to get resolutely disheartened with his surroundings. I think we need to think about it in a new way. The film is good because it is a good, not because it is good at being anything in particular. Maybe every review of the guard should just read ‘Very, Very, Good.’ At least then there would be a better quote for the poster than ‘A Raucous Comedy’, which ironically is about the only genre driven assessment of the film which seems incorrect.

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