DIRECTED BY John Crowley
STARRING Colin Farrell, Kelly Macdonald, Cillian Murphy
Opens November 28, Cert 18, 106 mins
Like amores perros without the dogs or Trainspotting without the heroin, Intermission is a dazzling trip through a city’s ripped backsides. First-time director Crowley and debuting screenwriter Mark O’Rowe have strong theatrical backgrounds, but there’s no staginess apparent in their freewheeling format. Shot on DV and setting a frantic pace from its first jaw-dropping scene, this pulls Irish cinema kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Farrell takes top billing as a feral, shaven-headed petty criminal, out to recruit a team to stage one last job that will allow him to fund his dream of settling down. But in this ensemble piece the attention is equally divided across a wide-ranging ensemble cast. There’s Macdonald, who shacks up with a sleazy bank manager when she splits with her boyfriend, the immature and inarticulate supermarket shelf-stacker Cillian Murphy. Macdonald’s fantastically grumpy sister (Shirley Henderson) makes clear her contempt for her sibling’s behaviour, but hides a dark secret of her own. Then there’s the bank manager’s wife out for revenge, and the arrogant paraplegic barfly who gives forth on the advantages of immobility while cadging drinks off anyone who will listen. And so on. Together, they’re an expansive collection of individuals, each seeking some sort of completion.
O’Rowe’s ear for the one-liners and tart colloquialisms of his native city ensures the script has zest and sizzle. Crowley’s ability to interweave the story lines and present an unromantic in-your-face look at modern Ireland is impressive. But what really makes Intermission is Colm Meaney’s performance as Jerry, the maverick detective with his eyes set on Farrell but with a loathing of criminal lowlifes in general that gnaws at him like a cancer. Jerry also has an interest in Celtic mysticism and a naive documentary maker on hand to take note of his hardboiled philosophy. The most driven character in a film where simmering desperation is the order of the day, Jerry is enough to make Intermission a must see. But elsewhere the engaging story lines and intriguing characters provide a compelling blend of grim fun and unvarnished realism.