Edinburgh Film Festival 2011/ Take 1

Day 1 

The Guard ****

Director John Michael McDonagh/ 96 mins 

The Film Festival could not have picked a better film to open with in this hilarious entertaining comedy. John Michael McDonagh (brother of Martin-In Bruges-McDonagh) follows in his sibling’s footsteps with another witty Irish based crime film starring Brendan Glesson.

Gleeson plays Sergeant Gerry Boyle a rural policeman who has a distinct personality, bends the rules, likes drugs and has a fondness for prostitutes. He is more interested in doing his own thing, than trying to assist FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) in trying to smash a drugs ring.

The drug smuggling plot and mismatched buddy storyline is unoriginal and at times feels like a comedy version of Bad Lieutenant. But the movie is driven by the clever dialogue and performances. The chemistry between Gleeson and Cheadle shines and it is throughly entertaining to watch them bicker like an old married couple. Even the cliched criminals (Liam Cunningham & Mark Strong) are memorable and have some of the best one liners in the movie.

The black humour is quite dark throughout with a mixture of innuendo and some racial insults, but nothing that will cause too much offence to an audience. Some of the subplots feel slightly undeveloped such as the dying mother.

McDough’s impressive debut is almost as good as In Bruges, but not quite as well developed.


Jane’s Journey ****

Director Lorenz Knauer/ 107 mins 

The life of primatologist and ethnographer Dr Jane Goodall is chronicled in this interesting and thought provoking documentary.

The film documents everything that has happened in her life, from her animal conservation and humanitarian work to her personal life involving two marriages and raising her son in the wilds of Africa.

Her story is told through a mixture of archive footage, photographs and new interviews with not only herself, but also with people who have been inspired by her work from ordinary families to celebrities. Kofi Annan, Angelina Jolie and Pierce Brosnan appear to show support to the work she is doing.


The film is slightly to long towards the end, with too much focus on the conferences that she attends, rather than solely concentrating on her Roots and Shoots projects.


This is a fitting tribute to a truly inspirational individual that has made the world a better place to live.


Fast Romance **

Director Carter Ferguson/ 93 mins 

The festival has been marketing this romantic comedy as Scotland’s answer to Love Actually. Unfortunately the different story strands that link the relationships between the characters do not flow quite as well as Richard Curtis’ effort.


The plot revolves around Gordon Boyd (William Ruane), a postman who is attracted to cafe worker Nadine (Jo Freer). After discovering that she is going to a speed dating night, he decides to go along to in the hope of that she will fall for him. Gordon takes his boss (Derek Munn) with him, while Nadine has taken her two best friends a nervous copy-girl and a bride-to-be (Lesley Hart). Will they fall in love or will Nadine fall for someone else.


The main problem with this kind of film is that there are too many characters and confusing subplots to follow. In this particular case the audience is introduced to everyone from work colleagues to family members. There are even cameo appearances from Scottish comedy stars in roles that are really not necessary to the plot. A variety of different subjects including cancer to trust are thrown at the audience, but it is hard to feel any sympathy for any of the characters.


There are also random shots that rely too heavily on crash zoom and strobing effects, which really look odd in a romantic comedy. The performances are very hit and miss with only Munn and Hart showing any promise. The comedy also fails to hit the mark often enough with only a few smile inducing moments worth noting, usually mainly from Barbara Rafferty’s eccentric neighbour.


Fast Romance could have worked as a story for a few episodes of a soap opera, but not as a feature film.


Reviews by Paul Logan 

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