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Sundance: 'The Guard' brings in the buyers on film festival's first night

January 20, 2011 | 10:39 pm

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It’s not the kind of movie you would think would attract a ton of Sundance Film Festival buyers, but a lot of shoppers are in Park City, Utah, and they descended Thursday night on “The Guard”  like moths to a flame, making for a fitting festival  launch.

Kicking off the festival’s world cinema dramatic competition, “The Guard” is a black comedy starring Brendan Gleeson as Sgt. Gerry Boyle, an uncouth Irish policeman who’s more inclined to steal drugs from the victim of a fatal car accident or cavort with prostitutes than solve a crime. But when global drug traffickers are rumored to be in the vicinity of his otherwise sleepy coastal town, American FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) tries — and initially fails spectacularly — to join forces with Boyle.

Playing at the smallish Egyptian Theater (seating capacity: 290), the movie attracted representatives of every distributor of specialized film, and even some bigger fish, including Disney studio chief Rich Ross. “The Guard,” written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, played well and generated enthusiastic laughter, even if the film’s often-thick Irish brogue made some of the dialogue inscrutable.

An informal poll of several buyers after the screening suggested that someone will buy “The Guard” before long. Some of the dialogue might have to be re-recorded for American ears, and because “the Guard” is a  little dark and unconventional, its appeal could be limited to a niche audience.  But for setting the Sundance mood, “The Guard” delivered.

-- John Horn

Photo of Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson in "The Guard." Credit: Jonathan Hession

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