A tale of two Tribeca hits - Brendan Gleeson’s ‘The Guard’ and ‘Noreen’
In fact, few films in recent years have captured rural Ireland the way it actually is like The Guard.
McDonagh shows it in all its rainy, grey, bog covered brilliance, a landscape that’s a million miles from the kind of epic Lord of the Rings grandeur that’s usually seen in the films made for tourists.
When McDonagh introduced The Guard during the royal wedding week he joked that the horses in Buckingham Palace have more sense than the people whose golden carriages they’re pulling. This statement drew shocked gasps from the American audience, which McDonagh enjoyed.
“They assume everyone in Britain loves the royal family,” says McDonagh with a big grin. “The concept that there could be an anti-monarchist political movement is just kind of anathema to them.”
McDonagh has filled The Guard with good jokes.
“I sometimes get criticisms that I write films with too many witty characters. But I don’t believe that working class people can never say something intelligent, and also I do it to keep it interesting as I’m writing it. I like throwing in all those references to the Russian novelists,” he says.
Villains in thrillers aren’t usually bored, but McDonagh enjoys giving audiences the opposite of what they expect.
“We never see a villain who doesn’t get along with the people he’s with, who doesn’t want to be there anymore. It’s just his job and he has to follow it through. In a way my villain is sort of relieved to be killed, because it puts him out of his boredom,” he offers.
The big anti-PC gags get big laughs, too. Speaking about the black FBI agent played by Cheadle, Boyle says, “He probably hasn’t had this much fun since he killed all those kids at Waco.”
For a moment you can hear a pin drop as the audience reassures itself that they really just heard what they think they have. Then they erupt in laughter.
Like the guard in his film, it’s safe to assume that McDonagh -- being Irish -- has a bit of a problem with authority figures.
“Gerry Boyle doesn’t stop all the way to the end. He doesn’t turn into a nicer person who’s not going to say that stuff. He’s still going to keep on being who he is,” McDonagh says.
“There’s an essential integrity to him. He’s saying the worst things he can think of to see what your reaction will be – that’s how they judge you as a person. He’s neither racist nor stupid. There’s real warmth to the character.”
But making the film was a challenge at times, because no matter how things have changed on the ground in Ireland these days, there are some storylines that still have the power to cause consternation.
“They wouldn’t let us shoot in a Catholic church,” explains McDonagh. “They didn’t like the scene or the dialogue talking about drugs. We had to find a Protestant church that would let us.
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