KJ Doughton, 27 March 2004
Intermission is directed by
John Crowley, but many of its low-life characters seem more in line
with notorious Satanist Aleister Crowley. Lehiff, a young
Dublin tough played by wary-eyed Colin Farrell, smashes a young
woman’s face as this grungy film opens, then repeats his
woman-abusing ways later on. These two black-eyed beatings bookend
Intermission’s look at a batch of troubled Irish oddballs, in
its bid for gritty humor ala Trainspotting poured over a
vast, Altman-inspired vat of stories. But unless you’re keen on
spending two hours in the company of embittered assholes inventing
problems for themselves, you’d be better off spinning a U2 record
over a pint of Guinness instead.
confused “hero,” John (played by Cillian Murphy of 28 Days Later),
inexplicably dumps his lovely girlfriend Deidre (Kelly Macdonald),
then appears miffed when she takes up with a married banker.
Immediately, the situation feels contrived. It’s a setup for one of
those “all paths intertwine” concepts, as their breakup sparks a
chain reaction of events involving seemingly unrelated characters.
terrific Colm Meaney) for instance, is an egocentric cop caught up
in the mix, whose level of self-absorption is simultaneously scary
and hilarious. As this hulking, pumped-up blow-hard gears up to star
in a documentary film about undercover work, he tracks down Lehiff
and pisses on the punk’s sneakers in an Alpha Male show of
superiority. “Stay out of trouble,” the relieved elder warns,
zipping up his pants.
Jerry’s tale is
absorbing – he’s Ireland’s narcissistic answer to Popeye Doyle. And
even a sociopathic loser like Lehiff is made watchable, thanks to
the charisma and acting chops of Meaney and Farrell.
Intermission falls apart, however, as it plays “cute” with a
dour bevy of women who lament such tired themes as adultery, dating,
and female moustache hair. We’re also treated to John’s blue-balled
buddy Oscar (David Wilmot) cruising geriatric nightclubs in a
desperate attempt to get laid. Watching Wilmot’s lusty lad beating
off to porno videos is akin to being catheterized, and Shirley
Henderson’s played-for-laughs monologue about an ex-lover who
defecated in bed isn’t much fun, either.
does season its layered collection of stories with some spicy
one-liners that almost redeem the retreaded stories. Self-conscious
about the strip of facial hair under her nose, Henderson asks a bus
driver, “Do I have a moustache?” His inspired response is, “Well,
lady, you’re no Tom Selleck.” There’s also a walrus-sized store
manager who torments Oscar and John during their day jobs as
bag-boys. Completing each taunt with an acronym, the Hitlerian
dictator tells his subordinates that if they don’t shape up, he’ll
“TCB” (i.e. “Take Care of Business”). Asked to suggest titles for
the reality television show he’s slated to star in, Jerry’s
suggestion is less subtle - “Hard as Nails Cunts.”
has its moments, thanks to such salty wordplay. But in playing
cruelty for laughs, a film better have style to burn, and
Intermission goes for a no-frills, digital video look as ugly as
its canvas of miscreants. Crowley’s group isn’t much fun to spend
time with, making viewers yearn for an intermission as his
Dublin train wreck unfolds.
Brian F. O’Byne
R - Restricted.
Under 17 reuqires
parent or adult