The Guard (2011)
The Guard, written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, older brother of Martin McDonagh who made the incomparable In Bruges in 2008, is a crime-comedy with just about the strongest Irish identity in the history of cinema. Set and filmed in Ireland with chiefly Irish actors, The Guard alternates between being proud and abashed about its irishness; one minute tributing the existence of its characters and environments, the next mocking it with a beautifully weighted sarcasm. The downplayed humorous tone is McDonagh's merit. He takes full advantage of his crisp writing, which is a traditional crime story in essence, but with some very distinct peculiarities that he knows how to accentuate and make count. His brilliant tool is the ever infallable Brendan Gleeson, who is so remarkably gifted at making his characters his own, even when it's one as preposterous as this one. Don Cheadle's character enables McDonagh's twisted take on the buddy/partner formula, and the possibilites for fun between these two poles apart are as many as they are well utilized.