Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Movie Log: Intermission

John (Cillian Murphy) broke up with his girlfriend Deirdre (Kelly Macdonald) as a "test" to see how much she loves him, and that one event sets all of the various interlocking plots of Intermission going. But you'll only know that if you read a review, or the description on the back of the DVD case, because that happened before the movie starts, and we don't begin with John and Deirdre at all.

We start with Colin Farrell's Lehiff, a smiling villain of a lad, always ready to do something as long as it's illegal, well remunerated, and doesn't require much effort. And we move on through Colm Meaney as the self-aggrandizing cop Jerry Lynch, John's best mate Oscar, Deirdre's semi-moustached sister Sally, the driver of the local bus Mick, Deirdre's new older boyfriend Sam, Sam's dumped wife Noleen, Oscar & John's horrible boss Mr. Henderson, Anthony the TV presenter, and a half-dozen other important characters, all of whom swear like fookin' sailors.

So: John dumps Deirdre for a dumb reason. She takes up with Sam the bank manager, who dumps his wife Noleen. Noleen goes looking for a man to cheer her up, and meets Oscar. John is depressed and violent at how quickly Deirdre got a new relationship, and falls in with Lehiff. Mick loses his job after a kid throws a rock and he crashes the bus, in an incident that also turns Sally into a hero and gets her on Anthony's TV show. Anthony, desperately sick of doing feel-good treacle, tries to do a segment with tough cop Jerry. Jerry is out to get Lehiff, between monologues about how tough and soulful and Celticly mystical he is. Those are the main threads; there are more connections and more characters (and further plot points), but that's what the movie mostly is about.

Intermission is occasionally quite funny, but the first scene sets a darker tone, so it will take most audiences a while to relax and start laughing at it. I suspect it's funnier in a movie theater, where someone will be laughing at everything even remotely funny, than it is in a living room with a smaller audience. I was interested in it primarily because I confused its director, John Crowley, with the director of Once, John Carney. Apparently there are two different movie directors in Dublin named John -- I learn something new every day.

Don't go into this movie expecting a "comedy," but a fistful of stories about interconnected people, with some humor and more than a little drama (in all sense of the word). It's not amazingly wonderful, but it's definitely got its strong points.

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