[box cover]

Intermission

Just listing the names of all the actors who have speaking parts in Intermission — an intricately plotted, fast-paced urban comedy set in working-class Dublin — would take up more space than the review gods have allotted for director John Crowley's engaging indie film. Luckily, a few central characters stand out above the crowd. There's John (Cillian Murphy), a handsome young grocery clerk regretting his ill-advised breakup with Deirdre (Kelly Macdonald). And Jerry (Colm Meaney), a vigilante cop with delusions of grandeur and a personal vendetta against petty thug Lehiff (Colin Farrell, whose accent is so thick you'll want to turn on the English subtitles). And, of course, Deirdre's mousy sister Sally (Shirley Henderson), whose hatred of men has left her bitter, alone, and mustached. Before the movie is over, all of their paths will intersect in various ways — some much more predictably than others. While the film's basic structure follows in the footsteps of other indies like Pulp Fiction and Go, Intermission feels fresh. Perhaps that's because, unlike most other ensemble comedies coming out of the United Kingdom lately, it's not a quirky romp about a colorful bunch of wacky characters with a so-crazy-it-just-might-work idea (a la The Full Monty, Calendar Girls, and so on). Yes, Intermission is full of the kind of coincidences that only happen in the movies, but Crowley and his cast make the characters' interconnectedness believable. Dublin may be a big city, but for those who live in the same neighborhood and frequent the same pubs, it's also a small town. And even though none of them gets a huge amount of screen time, the actors make the most of their roles. Murphy is appealingly soulful-eyed as John, and Macdonald gives Deirdre just the right amount of spunk to make us understand why John wants her back so badly. Farrell is funny and scary at the same time as Lehiff, a man who can go from talking about the merits of cooking with a wok to slapping someone across the face in the blink (or in his case, twitch) of an eye. And Henderson has some great moments playing Sally; with her sharp-but-squeaky voice and palpable loneliness, she somehow manages to be sympathetic without being pathetic (look for a particularly touching scene between Sally and her mother). MGM and IFC bring Intermission to DVD in a clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (English and Spanish subtitles are also available). The slim extras menu includes two alternate scenes, the theatrical trailer, and trailers for other MGM releases. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech



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