Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sarah's Key



Recently there was a science paper published listing the saddest movies of all time. It inexplicably listed The Champ (1979) as number one, at the expense of some genuine tearjerkers such as Disney's Bambi, Ghibli's Grave of the Fireflies, Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Requiem for a Dream amongst countless other soul numbing features which scarily populate my own DVD collection - not sure what that says about me. Well there might be a new one to trump them all - at least for the time being - in the form of Gilles Pasquet-Brenner's Sarah's Key.

Adapted from Tatiana de Rosney's best selling novel, the film tells a tale set between the present day and 1940s France accounting the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, a dark period in Nazi occupied Paris where all the Jews in the city were taken from their homes by Parisian police and sent off to concentration camps. All the while, Kristin Scott Thomas plays a journalist living in Paris in 2010, researching the tragedy, focusing in on the trials and tribulations of a little girl named Sarah, as she attempts to escape a concentration camp, make her way towards home and be reunited with her brother who was hidden in their apartment before the rest were taken away.

You could rightly argue the whole subject of The Holocaust is a slightly over crowded sub genre in the grand scheme of period cinema. From Schindler's List, The Pianist, The Counterfeiters, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas I could go on and on. Usually all excellent, but I think possibly because this is the first I've seen in the cinema, Sarah's Key seemed to profoundly move me in a way few (if any) films have done all year.

Kristin Scott Thomas was terrific in the lead role, as you watch her go deeper and deeper into her investigation, bringing up old wounds of even her own family's past, it seems to also bring the audience into it also - conjuring memories of when I read a like minded novel, The Book Thief. One of the most innocent and touching performances I've seen in so long was young Melusine Mayance in the role of the title character. She has some particularly memorable moments none more so than the scene were she's reunited with her brother. Might want to get a box of tissues for that one...

Once the film hits its emotional height, just over two thirds of the way through, the story does unfortunately drag out and simmer a bit at the end with Scott Thomas' story coming to its own conclusion.

Final Thoughts
With little hint of hope or bitter-sweet redemption for all involved. Sarah's Key contained scenes which were both deeply moving as they were so profoundly sad. Kristin Scott Thomas lead with the same grace which has served her so well for over two decades now, while Melusine Mayance shined with as character so beautifully portrayed as possessing undeniable will and determination to face some genuinely terrifying human experiences. If you fail to be moved by this film, to weep or just to sit there in a state of numbness once the credits roll then I simply feel sorry for you, and your lack of soul.

4/5

Sarah's Key is in selected cinemas throughout the U.K. from August 5th, 2011.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger


Suffice to say if Marvel had attempted to release Captain America about five or six years ago, they probably wouldn't have been greeted with the warmest of receptions. Nevertheless it's three Avengers down, in Thor, Iron Man and The Hulk, and without further ado it's Captain America's time to arrive at the party.

Based on the legendary Marvel title of the same name, Captain America does a slightly quirkier twist on the much crowded superhero genre by setting nearly all the action during World War II - and mostly pulling it off. It tells the tale of a young, scrawny, glass of water named Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he tries to bluff his way into the U.S. Army despite not being nearly close enough to being physically qualified - could probably still kick my ass but sure. Through a stroke of luck, his wimpy demeanour outmatches his enormous will which ultimately finds him enrolled in an experiment for a super soldier program hoping to change the course of the war, thus enabling him to become one of the most iconic superheroes of the 20th Century.

During the first half of the film, the whole build up with Cap's origin story was done with so much vigour you nearly forgot you were watching a superhero film at all and simply watching some coming of age World War II spectacle. Albeit with some of the fantasy driven visual nuances from the classic 1991 film - by the same director, Joe Johnston - The Rocketeer.

When originally announced I wasn't sure whether Evans was the right fit for the courageous, humble nature of Rogers' character, especially after seeing him play the opposite so well as the Human Torch in Fantastic Four, but he really brought a lot of heart and grounding to the man. Which was essential to making Captain America work, as a film, on a global scale. He just attained this sincerely likeable quality which found even myself hailing him as one of Marvel Films' best film creations to date.

Likewise the supporting cast delivered some enjoyable and charismatic turns from the likes of the brilliant Stanley Tucci as the not-so mad scientist who turns Rogers into the muscular hero. Tommy Lee Jones is classy as ever, as the stern and battle weary Col. Phillips. Hayley Atwell was one of the better love interests in, Peggy Carter. One of the highlights personally was seeing Dominic Cooper as the institutional Howard Stark - father, in the Marvel Universe, to the one and only Tony Stark aka Iron Man - which of course brings continuity to the grand scheme of things when preparing for next year's Avengers film. And yes while on The Avengers, Samuel L Jackson yet again makes his obligatory appearance as the illusive leader of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury.

Then of course there's Hugo Weaving, doing what Hugo Weaving does best, playing 'the bad guy'. Maybe not quite hitting the sinister heights which made him an international star during The Matrix trilogy, but under the guise of The Red Skull he certainly delivered a classical performance as the evil Nazi antagonist. Also quite enjoyed seeing the excellent Toby Jones as his right hand man.

Though disappointing me last year with The Wolfman reboot, Joe Johnston has definitely went back to what he does best, with the visual stylings he's probably best known for. The art deco vehicle designs of the evil HYDRA presented themselves beautifully, combining a real element of fun to the proceedings like his aforementioned Rocketeer feature, but also possessing a real action adventure quality rarely seen since the heights of the first three Indiana Jones films.

The CGI team working on the film should also be commended for the effects implored to make Chris Evans a 'scrawny pencil necked geek' even if it does dip a bit during the frantic fight scenes. Must say the numerous costume designs the protagonist went through were top class, can't wait to see how it's adapted in a modern setting next year.

Final Thoughts
Bold, entertaining and probably packing the most heart of them all. Captain America defies all of my personal expectations and delivers a film which, like X-Men First Class, harks back to a time when Summer blockbusters were meant to be huge events. Spectacles. A chance to escape but not needing to turn your brain off completely. An old fashioned good vs evil story, featuring a distinctly different character who should lend himself brilliantly to Marvel's epic superhero team-up, The Avengers next year. Captain America? F*ck yeah...

4/5

Captain America: The First Avenger is in cinemas everywhere now.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

An Island


I love music. I'd listen to everything and anything in some form or another. Though rarely have I found myself in a position to review music documentaries. Attempting to be an authority on film is a tough enough sell at times, but with music I'm genuinely out of my depth. Nevertheless when opportunity arises to review a film featuring one of my favourite bands I simply couldn't refuse.

An Island, directed by independent French film maker Vincent Moon, follows folky post rock band Efterklang as they trek around a small island off the coast of Denmark. Over the course of the documentary sees the band doing a series of unconventional shows with the natives of the island, similar in vein to Sigur Ros' triumphant love letter to their native Iceland in 2007's Heima.

Once you kind of get past the idea An Island isn't so much a film, but one really long somewhat abstract music video it's actually a visually gorgeous experience, shifting effortlessly between performances with sharp, contrasting, black and white shots of the island to warm, vivid, stylised camera-work of the band blasting out some of their more infamous tunes. It also features some really tender sweet moments, none more so than the performance the band do with a children's choir which just looked like a lot of good honest fun.

Obviously if you aren't a fan of the band's music, then this documentary probably isn't for you in any shape or form. However the techniques used and slick editing might appeal to budding young film students. Moon was also smart enough to know when to finish the documentary as I believe, with the exception of die hard fans, most would find their attention spans wavering if it continued past the 50 minute mark.

Final Thoughts
Efterklang's first stab at the great rockumentary genre is a tidy and visually pleasing one. Following in the footsteps of Sigur Ros, Vincent Moon has created something warm, honest and personable. Qualities which, in my opinion, shine through in the band's music again and again. Die hard fans will find it essential, casual fans will enjoy it, but I doubt potentially new fans will be sold just yet.

3/5

An Island can be bought by the band directly in a 'pay what you want' download package here :: http://anisland.cc/home/

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Sucker Punch (DVD)


The general premise of Sucker Punch is something which should appeal to me greatly. Despite getting horrendous reviews after its cinematic release back in March, I gave it the benefit of the doubt, holding off for the DVD to see if the same thing happened for this, which happened when I finally got round to watching Tron: Legacy on DVD, which I actually enjoyed very much - really didn't get all the bad vibes towards that film, readers.

Sucker Punch started so well with the back story to Emily Browning's Baby Doll coming across as a darker, more twisted, version of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. More so of course as Browning featured in film adaptation of it also. Unfortunately after this slick, macabre, piece of story telling it gets a little bit confused, to say the least. When entering the bleak, hostile environment of the insane asylum, the poor woman is condemned to, it gets more confused than it ever needed to be.

So through the art of some genuinely odd interpretative dance, Baby Doll and her fellow inmates - comprising of the gorgeous Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung - delve deep into their own subconscious, as an escape from the social horror of the asylum, to achieve the objects needed to plot their great escape.

It's fairly common knowledge director, Zack Snyder isn't known for deep and meaningful pieces of cinema, and yes he may only just be a cut above Michael Bay in the superficial faff department, nevertheless I've always found his films such as Watchmen and 300 enjoyable in their own way. With Sucker Punch however he just shoots wide off the mark several times, never quite knowing if he wanted to make some post-modern, pro-feminist action film, or just something for Call of Duty obsessed teenage boys with the attention spans of a five year old to oogle at for a couple of hours.

Which is a shame because Emily Browning is such a classy choice to lead the film, with a pureness and genuinely likeable quality rarely seen in such affairs. Likewise I particularly loved Jena Malone's appearance of whom I've been a fan of since I first saw her star alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko all of those years ago. Other notable contributions are Jon Hamm playing yet another variation of Don Draper - that's not a criticism from me by the way - Carla Gugino as the girls' illusive dance teacher and the great Scott Glenn as the wise man who inexplicably turns up every time the heroines start a new computer game level...I mean, task...I mean, mission. You know what? I really don't know what I mean, and that's half the problem with this film.

If you really feel the film is for you however, at least do yourself a favour and experience it on Blu-Ray. As the visual presentation benefits tenfold from it. Though the set pieces are painstakingly repetitive, the one highlight is perhaps the soundtrack, featuring some rather slick, atmospheric covers and remixes of classic songs from Queen, Bjork, Jefferson Airplane and as well as some sequences with the cast which felt like they were lifted from either Moulin Rouge or The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Final Thoughts
Dull, depressing, soulless and repetitive. Zack Snyder's latest isn't so much a 'sucker punch' to your senses but rather to your wallet, as you may ask yourself why anyone would spend between £10 - 20 on this nonsense. It takes a truly misguided director to make a story featuring beautiful, scantily clad women killing orcs, nazi zombies and dragons with machine guns and giant robots and still make it such a boring, worthless and ultimately woeful chore.

2/5

Sucker Punch is available on DVD/Blu-Ray from August 8th 2011. American readers can buy it right now.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun


It perhaps doesn't say much when I consider the best part of Hobo with a Shotgun to be the closing credits where inexplicably Run With Us by Lisa Lougheed is seeing out the frantic proceedings - which also played during the closing credits of one of my favourite childhood cartoons, The Racoons. Thankfully though the comparisons between the two properties very much end there.

Hobo with a Shotgun, following in the footsteps of Robert Rodriguez's Machete, is the latest exploitation film to spin-off from the infamous fake Grindhouse trailers of 2007. It tells the tale of the institutional Rutger Hauer as, yes you guessed it, the Hobo with said shotgun who takes it upon himself to go on a daft mission to clean up the outrageously brutal streets of Hope Town - which is overrun with gangsters, punks, pimps, paedophiles, drug dealers and prostitutes. Typical Sunday afternoon faff as you can imagine.

In respect to Hauer, who forever has a 'get out of jail free' card for being in Blade Runner and Batman Begins, I get the impression he probably had a lot of fun with this ridiculous role and if the writers had taken it a bit more seriously could've made his character quite a likeable anti-hero. Though the opening scene shows hints of a more reflective nature, it unsurprisingly lets the ultra-violence take over and what we're left with is an uninspiring and frankly boring film. There wasn't even any room for the film to be a parody of itself like the excellent sleeper hit of 2010, Black Dynamite. I was never sure whether it was truly trying to be funny, but for a large part I just found it to be needlessly obscene.

The support cast just added to the idiocy, and at times the comic book-like antagonists might have even been at home as a faction in Walter Hill's The Warriors back in 1979. Some people may like the film being nothing more than what is promised on the poster, call me a film snob if you will but I prefer to get something a little bit more out of films in general. There was times where I found it impossible to even root for the main character because his levels of madness just delve too deep.

I suppose once you get past the intense levels of blood, guts and the rather inventive and oh so subtle death scenes, you at least have to credit director, Jason Eisener for giving it a distinctly retro early 80s feel. Even went to the effort of filming in in Technicolor. That's one thing it had going for it I guess. Em...right...

Final Thoughts
In hindsight you only get from these sorts of films, whatever you put into it mentality. Hobo with a Shotgun was too incoherent, obscene and contained too little dark comedy to ever be a mindless, fun, trip down memory lane, to a time when these sorts of films were much more commonplace. Nevertheless if you belong to the culture of getting a few beers in you with some mates crowded around your TV, getting pleasure out of repugnant death scenes such as children being burnt to death in a crowded bus, then Hobo with a Shotgun is for you. Though I say with absolutely no regret it's just not for me.

1.5/5

Hobo With A Shotgun is showing in selected cinemas throughout the UK now. American visitors can get the film on DVD and Blu-Ray now.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)


Ten years. Eight films. Countless actors and production crews. It's all came down to this. While the first part of the Deathly Hallows failed to overwhelm this critic, its conclusion more than makes up for it in being just as dark and gruesome as its predecessor but also retaining something Part 1 ultimately lacked: magic and belief.

For those, like myself, who haven't read the books, the plot is relatively straight forward. After escaping the clutches of the odious Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) at the end of Part 1, Harry and his two best friends, Ron and Hermione sough to destroy the remaining Horcruxes so they may finally rid the world of the dark lord known as Voldemort (Ralph Finnes). Through this they travel to the depths of a dragon infested cave of riches, back to the bleakness of the English lake district which ultimately leads them and essentially every single other remaining character to ever grace the saga - who ain't dead yet - to an epic, magic fuelled, battle to the death at Hogwarts.

There is a surprising amount of blood, there is death, there is genuine emotion and tragedy, there is some truly spectacular, fantastical magic, however there is also a great deal of fun to be had from this film for the whole family. We all know Daniel Radcliffe never truly felt like Harry Potter when we first met him at the beginning of The Philosopher's Stone, but watching him grow into the role and into the presence he's become is perhaps one of the most heartening things to come out of the 10 year series, I feel.

Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, though taking more of a lead in Part 1, came of age beautifully as the solid backbones to Radcliffe's final performance as the boy who lived. While the wonderful Evanna Lynch - a true star in my eyes - shined as the logically mad Luna Lovegood, controversially the real star of the 'younger cast' was the truly excellent and thoroughly endearing contribution from Matthew Lewis as the bumbling Neville Longbottom, the ultimate underdog hero of the whole tale.

As always however the younger cast are understandably outshone by their older peers such as Alan Rickman in a scene stealing moment, and treated with the respect he deserves as the ambiguous Severus Snape. Maggie Smith is more headstrong this time out in the role as the graceful Professor McGonagall. Michael Gambon was as classy as ever in his brief scenes as Professor Dumbledore as was Ciaran Hinds as his brother. I could be here all day mentioning everyone else including the likes Jim Broadbent, John Hurt, Jason Issacs, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kelly MacDonald, David Thewlis, Gary Oldman, Robbie Coltrane and Mark Williams. When has a film series ever attracted a classier ensemble of actors? Savour it because it may never happen again.

I've always been slightly critical of Warner Bros choice of staying with David Yates after he delivered two of the most lacklustre entries of the whole series for me, The Half Blood Prince and Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows. However the studio's faith in him is duly rewarded in some truly spectacular camera-work and adding a real sense of grandness to the occasion. Though if I'm honest when compared to the finales of some other mega blockbuster events such as the final scenes of Lord of the Rings or the original Star Wars trilogy, general movie goers, as oppose to avid Potter fans may leave feeling slightly underwhelmed by the lukewarm final scene set 19 years later.

Nevertheless looking back on the past 10 years of Harry Potter, as films and as a general phenomenon, it's rarely ever failed to inspire the imagination. It's delivered iconic moments which will stay with its devoted audience forever, from the first time we see Hogwarts in Philosopher's Stone, the giant spiders in The Chamber of Secrets, the darkly presence of Gary Oldman's Sirius Black in Prisoner of Azkaban, the proper arrival of Voldemort in Goblet of Fire, really should I really keep going?

Final Thoughts
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 may have just saved the best action, emotion and suspense for last, but it's still not entirely perfect as a film. However, after all was said and done, when good finally triumphed over evil, when loved ones were lost, reunited and finally found, millions of fans everywhere will notice a void and ask themselves what's next to look forward to with the Harry Potter franchise now officially over. Mr Radcliffe, Mr Grint and Ms Watson may rightly ask themselves where they will go from here, after cementing themselves firmly and unexpectedly in cinematic history. And also for us general film fans, critics and viewers alike, may weep in despair or rejoice in the thought it's all finally finished. Regardless of your feelings, you have to admit, the boy did good. The boy did good.

4/5

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is out everywhere now. Part 1 of course is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Tree of Life


Take ten different people to see Terrence Malick's new abstract, mind-bending, universe spanning, melodrama, The Tree of Life and you will probably get ten completely different perspectives in the post-pub discussion afterwards. So it really doesn't matter what I say about it as a film because you most likely aren't going to agree with me. However it's because of this odd quirk it may be the most essential film released this year.

Already winning the coveted Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, The Tree of Life tells the tale of a 1950s family featuring Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain as the mother and father to three sons. Imploring the use of beautifully shot scenes and a slow emotive score from the brilliant Alexandre Desplat rather than being heavily dialogue driven, Malick gives the audience not so much a straight film but a strange philosophical examination on the wonders of the universe and how everything is seemingly interconnected by what we do with our time on this plane of existence. Hope this is making sense to you dear reader, because I'm still trying to get my head round it.

The dynamic between Pitt and Chastain in regards to their children was interesting, almost as if both individuals, flawed as they are, represented the two extremes of a person in their life. Pitt being the stern father figure, a cynical deadbeat, punishing his sons, most likely in ways he was punished as a child himself. Buried beneath that deep seeded spite however was a man just trying to do good by his family, even if his methods are a bit extreme by modern standards. Chastian on the other hand, is a much more purer and spiritual soul than her husband - often being quoted during the more cosmic moments of the film in relation to her Christianity or her family.

The children themselves are perhaps the audience's only real indication of the narrative moving itself along, as we witness the eldest son's birth, early infancy right through to his teenage years - as well as his constant personal conflict with his father and we witness the birth of his two younger brothers. Perhaps in regards to Sean Penn's ambiguous role in the film - as the eldest son, Jack in later life - you could consider these moments set in the 50s as a representation of the stagnant echoes of memory. Looking back you can only ever remember the key parts of your earlier life, with the cohesion getting more lost the further back you go.

I get the impression and almost weep in despair at the thought of there being about a six hour version of this movie where Sean Penn's role is expanded upon. Otherwise he doesn't really do a lot besides reflect and brood in the moments he features, not counting the utterly bizarre portions where he's whisked away to a deserted landscape and reunited with the rest of the cast of the film in some crossroads of life.

However you aren't really going to watch The Tree of Life for its abstract, fragmented, story. The beauty of it simply lies in letting yourself be immersed in the extremely impressive, almost ethereal, visual effects produced by legendary effects artist Douglas Trumbull - whose credits include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Nonsensical scenes documenting the origin of the universe may seem to most of the average cinema audience has pointless but it really makes for some truly iconic imagery, and perhaps some of the most impressive seen in a film in the last 10 years - not counting the utterly bizarre cameo of a couple of dinosaurs.

Final Thoughts
Terrence Malick's latest epic will leave you baffled and maybe wondering where the last two and a half hours of your life went. However it may also leave you in complete awe at the wonders of life and the universe and their deeper more profound interconnectedness. Frankly this melodrama, come pseudo philosophical piece is like watching a moving work of art. No single soul will take the same conclusion away from it. My take is that deep down, it's a celebration of life, of the human soul, of man's own spirituality and how insignificant it can all be next to the vastness of the universe. This is a film, for better or worse, which will stay with you for life, will be discussed at great length for decades to come, will turn up in 1001 Films to See Before You Die lists and it's because of these points you must see it on the biggest screen you can find. I can't promise you'll get it, because I can't honestly say I did either, but hey that's life I suppose...

5/5

The Tree of Life is in cinemas throughout the UK from Friday. Belfast audiences can see it exclusive in the Queen's Film Theatre from July 15th 2011.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Guard


In the midst of soulless 3D CGI spectaculars dominating our multiplexes, John Michael McDonagh's debut feature The Guard provides us with one of the lower key offerings at the cinema this summer, unsurprisingly packing the most heart in the process.

With the likes of The Hangover 2 and Bridesmaids dominating the box office takings in the comedy genre with their brash, over-hyped nature, leave it to the Irish to produce one of the best you'll see in the cinema this year, already taking huge plaudits at this year's prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Brenden Gleeson and Don Cheadle star in a black comedy about a member of the Republic of Ireland's Garda and America's FBI who team up to take down an international drug smuggling gang in the Connemara district in the West of Ireland.

I'll probably concede that if you don't come from either side of the boarder in Ireland some of the more obscure cultural references might be lost on you. Like any Irish comedy it's a very knowing, ironic kind of humour, obviously with much swearing and the odd bit of violence thrown in for good measure. Be it the constant slagging of Dublin city boys, Limerick's notorious reputation as the crime capital of the island - once considered 'the murder capital of Europe' believe it or not - as well as poking fun at the somewhat lax attitude towards the persistent drugs war still being battled within that region of country.

However with the sheer brilliant comedy timing of Gleeson as the unorthodox, playfully racist, Sergeant Gerry Boyle it's genuinely impossible not to find yourself sincerely laughing out loud at times.While Don Cheadle served his purpose as the strait-laced wingman to Gleeson's preposterous nature, and a POV for audiences less local than the one this reviewer was sitting with, it was the unexpectedly classy home-grown support cast who takes most of the plaudits in this one.

Liam Cunningham was terrific alongside the psuedo philosophical, Mark Strong and their sociopath henchman, David Wilmot as the not so sinister villains of the piece, always trying their hardest to go against the grain of daft American cop show clich├ęs. The youngest member of the cast, Michael Og Lane was one of those surprising revelations in a film this low-key and provided the audience with some near scene stealing moments as the mischievous lad is caught out trying to nick a couple of guns from Gleeson when he uncovers a stash of weapons abandoned by the IRA.

One of the more surprising aspects of the film was the odd occasion by the director to slow down the outrageous hysterics and revert to the emotional struggle Gleeson had with his dying mother, played with much grace by the brilliant Fionnula Flanagan. Two quite potent moments of Flanagan confessing her sins one last time in church and then experience live music in the bar for old time's sake. Normally this might slow down and detract but it managed to round Gleeson's character off in similar ways to how he was portrayed in 2008's excellent black comedy, In Bruges.

Visually, McDonagh uses Connemara's bleak, boggy landscapes to their full potential, producing some really warm earthly camera-work beautifully. The script's balance of cheap laughs next to the story flows perfectly, never really once becoming a parody of itself.

Final Thoughts
The Guard feels like it's taken some of the situations from Edgar Wright's excellent Hot Fuzz and thrown it into the strange world of possibly the greatest Channel 4 comedy ever, Father Ted. Brenden Gleeson once again cements himself as one of Ireland's brightest acting talents - as if anyone really needed more convincing. It's genuinely funny, at times truly outrageous and above all packs plenty of real heart. It might not be the biggest, loudest, most visually spectacular film you'll see in the cinema this summer, but it might just be one of the best.

4.5/5

The Guard is in selected cinemas throughout the UK from July 8th 2011.