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InterMission (18)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None stated

HOLLYWOOD rebel, Colin Farrell, may have starred alongside the likes of Al Pacino, Tom Cruise and Samuel L Jackson in the past year, but it’s refreshing to see that he hasn’t forgotten his roots, and is quite happy to journey back to the Emerald Isle to help out its struggling film industry.

Intermission marks something of a change of pace for the young actor, given its small budget and gritty background, but it’s a cracking little urban thriller to boot, fuelled by a strong ensemble cast and a sardonic, if foul-mouthed script.

The film comprises a series of stories about people whose lives are knowingly and unknowingly entwined, and is a darkly comic look at how the simplest decision can spark off a massive chain of events.

In this case, Cillian Murphy’s hapless supermarket worker, John, provides the catalyst, by suggesting that he should take a break from his long-term girlfriend, Deirdre (Kelly Macdonald), to test her love for him.

The plan, of course, backfires, as Deirdre quickly moves in with an older man, Sam (Michael McElhatton), a bank manager, who leaves his wife of 14 years, Noeleen (Deirdre O’Kane) to be with her.

Noeleen, meanwhile, sets about getting some self-esteem back and hits the singles trail, where she eventually meets Oscar (David Wilmot), the best friend of John, and embarks upon a sexual relationship of her own.

In the meantime, events conspire to court the interest of Farrell’s small-time criminal, Lehiff, who seizes the opportunity to mount a daring bank robbery, if he can avoid the attention of Colm Meaney’s veteran detective, Detective Jerry Lynch, with whom he has been waging a personal war.

And thrown into the mix is a frustrated documentary film-maker (Tom O’Sullivan) seeking to be taken seriously, an unemployed bus driver (Bryan F O’Byrne), out for revenge against the child thug who cost him his job, and a widowed mum (Ger Ryan) and spurned daughter (Shirley Henderson), who are attempting to get their own lives back on track.

With so much going on, it is a tribute to John Crowley’s skill as a director that he never loses sight of any of the plot arcs, while all of the characters remain memorable in some way.

Farrell, of course, scene-steals whenever he is around, but isn’t allowed to hog the limelight, while the emerging likes of Murphy and Wilmot provide a suitably endearing emotional core, which should have audiences rooting for them, no matter how ludicrous their predicaments become.

Special mention, however, goes to Meaney, for his hard-as-nails detective, who has a penchant for Clannad, even when chasing down criminals, and to Henderson’s bittersweet turn as a spurned wife, who has let herself go, despite wanting to be loved like anyone else.

Crowley should also be applauded for mixing the humour and sadness so well, without ever resorting to obvious cliches, or awkward manipulation, and his decision to keep things darker than average lends proceedings a genuinely realistic feel.

The film has been likened, in some quarters, to an Irish equivalent of Trainspotting, and its fast, no-holds barred style is certainly reminiscent of that movie. Yet it contains a raw, authentic style of its own and should have you hooked from beginning to end. It looks destined to become a cult classic.

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