By Shawn McKenzie 04/04/2004
When you combine thick accents with multiple characters in multiple storylines, you get a mess of a movie in my opinion. The movie Intermission is just that…a mess…but not a boring one though.
I only had the actions on the screen and the occasional clearly said word to go on while watching this film, so this plot synopsis is dependant heavily on research. Bear with me here. The whole movie takes place in Dublin, Ireland. After a shocking and confusing intro where street thug Lehiff (Colin Farrell) flirts with and then punches a shop girl just to steal her money, we meet John (Cillian Murphy) and Deidre (Kelly Macdonald.) They are a young couple who have just broken up (she dumps him because she doesn’t see a future with him and his job as a clerk in a department store.) She is now living with a banker named Sam (Michael McElhatton), a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis by leaving his wife and shacking up with the young woman. John works at the store with his friend Oscar (David Wilmot), a sex-starved, awkward guy looking for a girlfriend anyway he can. The only fun they have on their job is messing with their boss, Mr. Henderson (Owen Roe.) Oscar suggests that they check out a new bar where the women are desperate for men. It is at this bar that Oscar meets and hooks up with Noeleen (Deirdre O’Kane), the abandoned wife of Sam. She takes out her frustrations about Sam on Oscar while they have sex, giving the young man visible injuries. Deidre’s mother, Maura (Ger Ryan), doesn’t seem to care what her daughter does, but her sister, Sally (Shirley Henderson), thinks that her relationship with Sam is adultery. Sally is right, but she is also a little bitter from a bad former relationship, and she has let her personal appearance go, which includes her little mustache. In the meantime, Maura and Sally witness an accident of the bus they just got off. Mick (Brían F. O’Byrne) was the bus driver, and his bus overturns when he is hit by a rock thrown by Phillip (Taylor Molloy), a mischievous little kid. The mother and daughter witnesses are pursued for their story by Ben (Tomás O’Suilleabháin), a TV producer who is trying to find the right project for a documentary. He had previously tried filming the everyday life of Detective Jerry Lynch (Colm Meaney), an officer who likes to portray a tough guy image and likes the attention of the camera, since it might lead to a higher position on the force or something in showbiz. Jerry is keeping an eye on Lehiff, whom he suspects is up to no good. He’s right, because Lehiff has a plan to rob Sam’s bank with John and Mick. Mick wants to do the job because the accident cost him his job and he promised his wife a new kitchen; John just wants to get back at Deidre by doing something mean to Sam. Like every other multi-character crime movie since Pulp Fiction, it ends disastrously. Whew! Did I make it?
Unlike Pulp Fiction, this movie plays out its events in order. We alternate between the various characters’ stories, but they aren’t all jumbled up.
They all do have very thick Irish accents though, and that is my major problem with the movie. I had the same problem with Calendar Girls earlier this year. I’ve noticed that thick-accented movies don’t seem to be a problem for other critics, so I must be a simpleton. I’m sorry…I may be a major movie geek who spouts off geekisms in all of my reviews, but I’m still a regular moviegoer. I have put popcorn flicks on the same plain as indie flicks. I just want to be entertained, and if I don’t feel that I was entertained by a movie, I’d bet most non-critic moviegoers might not like it either. I think that the regular average Joe or Jane might be put off by the thick accents in this movie, since it makes it hard to understand what anyone is saying. I would fully support the idea of putting in subtitles (a method employed by last year’s heavily Scottish-accented movie Sweet Sixteen.)
I’ve been really hard on Intermission, but it is a good movie. As I said, the movie ends disastrously, but not in a typical or predictable fashion (actually, all of the bad things that happen turn out to be good for some of the characters.) Many characters are memorable, including the ones played by Farrell, Henderson, and Wilmot. If you can get past the accents, you will love the movie…but don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t cultured enough if you can’t get past them. Part of enjoying a movie is being able to understand it!
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