2003, R, 106 min. Directed by John Crowley. Starring Cillian Murphy, Kelly Macdonald, Colin Farrell, Shirley Henderson, Colm Meaney, Rory Keenan, Brian F. O’Byrne.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., April 9, 2004

The British Isles had a great run in the Nineties of scrappy, snappy ensemble comedies (The Commitments, Trainspotting, Snatch), and Intermission initially looks to follow in those footsteps with its brash, literally knockout opening, in which mad-dog criminal Lehiff (Farrell) rips off a convenience store armed only with verbal seduction and a fierce right hook. Farrell (whose screen time is actually quite short) plays but one of Intermission’s dozen interweaving characters, some of whom are breaking up, some making up, some just looking to get laid. The central figure is John (28 Days Later’s Murphy), who hates his job and pines for his ex-girlfriend, Deirdre (Macdonald); in an exceedingly twisted move to win back her love, he hooks up with Lehiff for a bank heist that hinges on taking Deirdre hostage. That sort of anti-logic (and faint misogyny) runs throughout Irish filmmaker John Crowley’s black comedy; the script (by first-time screenwriter Mark O’Rowe) is largely built on the chain reaction of one idiotic, self-defeating action after another. In manipulating its many disparate characters to bump into each other and set plot lines in motion, Intermission walks a fine line between clever and contrived, with the scale tipping more often toward contrived. Of course, plot contrivances can be easily forgiven provided the material is compelling enough. But despite the many appealing actors in Crowley’s arsenal, Intermission fails to connect emotionally; in between repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot, very few of the characters have the time or inclination to drum up any sympathy. The always endearing Shirley Henderson, as Deirdre’s sister Sally, proves exception to the rule as a woman badly scarred by a lover’s betrayal. But her deep hurt is undercut, even exploited, throughout at the service of a running gag involving her manly mustache (the punchline being that she is so demoralized she can’t even keep up with personal grooming). Ultimately, she picks herself up and opens herself up to love again, but it’s a small triumph in a film so bent on pursuing the worst parts of the sad sacks it chooses to chronicle.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More John Crowley Films
The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt's metaphorical novel gets an award-season adaptation

Josh Kupecki, Sept. 20, 2019

When looking homeward do we glance toward the past or the future?

Steve Davis, Nov. 20, 2015

More by Kimberley Jones
She Said
The journalistic investigation of Harvey Weinstein gets the rage but not the tension

Nov. 18, 2022

We Have an Issue: Where the Wild Things Are
We Have an Issue: Where the Wild Things Are
What's going on at Texas Memorial Museum?

Nov. 18, 2022


Intermission, John Crowley, Cillian Murphy, Kelly Macdonald, Colin Farrell, Shirley Henderson, Colm Meaney, Rory Keenan, Brian F. O’Byrne

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle