I tried watching this film several days ago and had to stop. I couldn’t understand a word of this film from Ireland. Then I remembered I could turn on the subtitles, and tried again. That was the ticket.
A speeding red sports car full of drunken teens speeds by a cop (Gerry Boyle played by Brendan Gleeson) dozing in his cruiser by the side of the road. A crash, he wakes up and goes to investigate. It appears that all the passengers are dead. He searches the pockets and pulls out a wallet. Then as he stares out over the sea, he says “What a beautiful fuckin’ day”. And so the movie starts.
Next morning Gerry is called to another crime scene and his new partner (Aidan McBride, played by Rory Keenan) is waiting for him outside. A man, shot through the head is slumped against the wall with a page from the bible stuck in his mouth, “5 1/2” scrawled in blood above his head. After riffing on film titles (8 1/2, Seven), McBride gives Gerry theory that 5 1/2 indicates the number of victims so far of a serial killer. This is the 5th, he explains, with 4 others before this one and one victim with his legs cut off. It’s a theory anyway. The dead pan humor goes on this way throughput the film.
We learn theat Gerry’s mother (a brief role played with grace, always the case with Fionnula Flanagan) is terminally ill when he goes to visit her in a nursing facility in a hospice. He finds her reading a Russian novel, Oblomov. Gerry tells her that he
“Never got into the Russians. They take too long getting to the fecking point.”
His mother asks, “Not even Dostoyevsky, no?”
Gerry: “Come on now, he was the main offender. Gogol was good.” He pulls out a flask and gives it to his mother who glances around furtively.
“He went doolally in the end, though. God love him,” his mother replies.
There is a lot of great dialogue such as this in Director John Michael McDonagh’s film, his first feature as screen-writer and Director (he wrote the screen play for Ned Kelly. Boyle is abusive, profane, a racist (an equal opportunity racist), goofs around and drinks on the job. But he’s a good cop. When a FBI agent (Don Cheadle’s Wendell Everett) shows up following a drug smuggling ring to Ireland, Boyle, after messing with him a bit tells him that one of the smugglers he’s looking for is already dead (the man they found shot through the head). Cut to a car at night with the three remaining drug smugglers. Two in front, one in back – he’s in a suit and reading a book. Obviously the ringleader. More literary by-play.
[Reading from book, Liam Cunningham as Francis Sheehy]: “Schopenhauer.”
[Passenger, David Wilmot as Liam O’Leary]: “I’d say Nietzsche.”
[Back seat]: “Nietzsche. You haven’t even read any Nietzsche.”
[Passener[: “I have too! The Anti-Christ.”
[Back seat]: “Quote me something then.”
[Passenger]: “What does not kill me–“
[Back seat]: “Fuck’s sake. Every child knows that one.”
[Driver, Mark Strong as Clive Cornell]: “Bertrand Russell.”
[Back seat]: “Bertrand Russell. [Talking to the passenger] You listening to him?”
[Back seat]: “The fuckin’ English. Everything has to be fuckin’ English. Name your favorite philosopher, and lo and behold, he’s English.”
[Driver]: “He’s Welsh.”
[Back seat]: “Uh?”
[Driver]: “Bertrand Russell was Welsh.”
[Back seat]: “Bertrand Russell was Welsh.”
[Back seat, after a pause]: “You know I never knew that. Didn’t think anybody interesting was Welsh.”
[Driver]: “Dylan Thomas?”
[Back seat, flipping page]: “Like I said.”
[Passenger, snapping fingers]: “You will not get the crowd to cry Hosanna, until you ride into town on an ass. Nietzsche.”
The man in the back seat and the driver both give him a “good one!” Then the cops pull them over. I love this sort of dialogue, incongruous as it is. Even when they put three bullets into the back of the cop who pulled them over, there is humorous dialogue to follow. When he answers the door in his underwear and a pretty woman is standing there, he tells her he’ll “just slip into something a little less comfortable.” Seriously, this is a very wise and extremely funny film. With a great ensemble cast headed by the great Brendan Gleeson. Murder, drug smuggling and police corruption never was so appealing. I highly recommend it. With the subtitles turned on of course.