Intermission

2004, Movie, R, 116 mins

Review

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Consistently unpredictable and sneakily charming, this ensemble comedy-drama-romance-crime picture charts the intersecting paths of diverse Dubliners united by their fumbling pursuit of love and happiness. The fulcrum is Deirdre (Kelly Macdonald), whose handsome but none-too-bright boyfriend, John (Cillian Murphy), decides to test her love by suggesting they take a break from their relationship. Determined not to fall apart like her embittered sister, Sally (Shirley Hendersen), who crawled home to mother after a grotesque breakup, heartbroken Deirdre pulls herself together and finds a new boyfriend in married, middle-aged bank manager Sam (Michael McElhatton). Already seething over the petty humiliations meted out daily by his loathsome boss (Owen Roe), a petty martinet who overestimates his grasp of American tough-guy lingo, John works himself into a towering rage at Deirdre, while the besotted Sam abandons his distraught wife, Noeleen (Deirdre O'Kane). John's sex-starved best friend, Oscar (David Wilmot), attends a pub dance for older singles in hopes of scoring with an older lady — God knows, he's had no success with women his own age — and collides with the shattered Noeleen, who hurls herself into a rebound relationship. Meanwhile, Deirdre and her widowed mother, Maura (Ger O'Brien), worry that Sally is giving in to depression — she won't even deal with the faint but off-putting moustache smudging her upper lip. Following a bus accident caused by angelic-looking delinquent Phillip (Taylor Molloy), who maliciously pitches stones at the windshields of oncoming vehicles, Maura and Sally help evacuate other passengers and are lauded as local heroes by ambitious local TV producer Ben (Tom O'Sullivan). The bus driver, Mick (Bryan F. O'Byrne) is unfairly fired, while Ben, who's tired of making lightweight human-interest stories, starts shooting an independent documentary about rogue detective Jerry (Colm Meany). Jerry is hot on the trail of Lehiff (Colin Farrell), a thief whose charming banter and interest in sophisticated kitchenware conceal a fundamentally brutal nature. By the time John, Jerry and Lehiff have banded together to pull off an ambitious robbery that they hope will solve all their respective financial problems and get their lives back on track, the strands of playwright Mark O'Rowe's screenplay have pulled together into a supremely satisfying ornamental knot. The film's uniformly excellent performances are a delight, and fans of Irish actor Farrell (whose pitch-perfect American accent has served him well in Hollywood) can hear both his natural inflections and his singing voice: Farrell's punked-up cover of classic loser's lament "I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)" plays under the closing credits. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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