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'The Guard': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

August 11, 2011 |  6:30 am

Brendan Gleeson in "The Guard"
If the mere presence of Irish actor Brendan Gleeson — so arresting as Churchill in HBO's "Into the Storm," so amusing as philosophizing hit man Ken in "In Bruges" — isn't enough to convince you to check out "The Guard," let me just mention that the bad guys while away the time discussing Nietzsche like Oxford elite. Holy smokes!

Actually, nothing is sacred in the wry surprise of "The Guard.” Writer-director John Michael McDonagh set this comic whodunit in the beautiful Irish countryside, then mucked it up with a series of brutal events that suggest a bigger criminal conspiracy may be afoot. In a very cheeky turn, Don Cheadle swoops in as an out-of-country, impatient Fed saddled with Gleeson's Sgt. Gerry Boyle.

Gleeson, doughy and disdainful on the outside, wise and witty on the inside, carries the movie and the day, though the cross-dressing prostitutes he favors are charming too. Bodies and bold plot twists keep turning up in such unexpected ways that it all feels effortless. Such a satisfying piece of entertainment is rare, but then with Gleeson's Sgt. Boyle ever there, ever arch, ever rocking this very clever boat, it’s almost impossible to go wrong.


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— Betsy Sharkey

Top photo: As Sgt. Gerry Boyle, Brendan Gleeson, left, makes a questionable collar in the Irish comic whodunit "The Guard." Credit: Jonathan Hession / Sony Pictures Classics.

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