Films presents a film directed by John Crowley. Written
by Mark O'Rowe. Running time: 106 minutes. Rated R (for
pervasive language, some sexual content and violence).
Starring:Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell, Kelly Macdonald,
Colm Meaney, Shirley Henderson, David Wilmot, Michael
McElhatton, Deirdre O'Kane.
is a film in the vein of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp
Fiction in that it takes a group of eccentric characters,
throws them into a series of strange events, and sees how
it all turns out. The clear difference between the two films,
however, is that Intermission can't even create the
illusion of being about something, which Pulp Fiction
pulls off so admirably, creating a film that is decidedly
less than the sum of its parts.
not hard to pinpoint what is wrong with Intermission.
It's director John Crowley's debut picture, and he just isn't
ready to pull off something this ambitious. Success would
require artful balancing of disparate stories and themes until
it eventually all comes together, but Crowley fumbles with
the themes until nothing that happens seems like anything
other than a screenwriter's conceit, and quite a few plot
threads are ended unsastisfactorily.
a shame, too, because the story shows promise. An ensemble
piece, Intermission involves John (Cillian Murphy)
and Oscar (David Wilmot), two petty thieves working in a department
store. They both are having trouble in love; John just broke
up with his girlfriend, Deidre (Kelly Macdonald), and Oscar
doesn't have any love life to speak of at all. So Oscar goes
to a mature women singles club to hook up and meets Noeleen
(Deirdre O'Kane), the abandoned wife of Sam (Michael McElhatton),
who is now living with Diedre. Meanwhile John gets involved
in a complex bank-robbing scheme with Lehiff (Colin Farrell),
a violent hooligan.
that all sounds confusing, consider that I haven't even mentioned
Jerry (Colm Meaney), a sadistic cop, or Sally (Shirley Henderson),
Deidre's mustachioed sister. There are literally a dozen major
characters and plotlines, not all of which Intermission
spends the necessary amount of time on. I get the distinct
feeling that quite a bit of film was cut out, causing the
narrative to occasionally feel disjointed and jumpy.
Intermission's dialogue impresses. It is filled with
dark humor and snappy lines; none of it really sounds like
something anyone would say, but we find ourselves believing
it anyway. An equal share of credit for this must go to the
screenwriter and the actors, nearly all of whom do strong
work. Cillian Murphy, from last year's 28
Days Later, balances anger and sadness convincingly,
as do David Wilmot and Kelly Macdonald. The real stand-out,
however, is Colin Farrell, speaking in close to his real accent,
who creates a creepily charming individual out of a decidedly
amoral character. It's finally a performance that manages
to stretch his considerable talent, and it's a shame that
his work won't be seen by many. (However, leave once the credits
start, lest you be subjected to his awful rendition of "I
Fought the Law.")
just too much going on in Intermission to fit into
106 minutes, and Crowley never finds the right balance between
the narrative threads to make it compelling. It's the kind
of movie you can watch and respect for what it does right
but still not like it. In this case, unfortunatetly, good
writing and acting can't make up for the subpar direction.
2004 Matt Noller