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interMission (May 27/04)

There's no other way to describe interMission than to call it an Irish riff on Magnolia or Short Cuts. Like those films, interMission follows several characters as they intersect each others lives and cope with the harsh realities of everyday life.

The film opens with a fantastic sequence featuring Lehiff (Colin Farrell) charming a shop girl, though his intentions are quickly revealed (and they're not exactly wholesome). We're then introduced to many other characters - including Colm Meaney's Jerry, Kelly MacDonald's Deidre, and Cillian Murphy's John - along with several others, in this film that is mostly plot-free.

Director John Crowley imbues interMission with a gritty style that effectively complements the rough-and-tumble nature of these characters. If his goal was to make Ireland look like a dangerous and unpleasant place to live, there's no denying that Crowley has succeeded. He takes his camera into dingy bars, poorly-lit grocery stores, and dilapidated buses - effectively painting a very specific portrait of a certain segment of Irish society.

The film's not entirely downbeat, though; screenwriter Mark O'Rowe inserts a good amount of humor and levity into the story, though it's mostly of the dark variety. The comedy generally comes into play during unexpected moments of violence; like Pulp Fiction, the sudden bursts of action usually involve something bloody and inexplicable (ie Marvin's head exploding). Farrell's Lehiff is a big contributor to this aspect of the film, delivering an electrifying and volatile performance.

As tends to be the case with a film like this (one that features several storylines), it doesn't come as much of a surprise that there's at least one plotline that doesn't entirely work. Though he gives a great performance, it quickly becomes evident that Colm Meaney's Jerry doesn't have much to contribute to the overall story. There's a certain momentum that builds up throughout the movie, a momentum that comes to a dead halt whenever Crowley dwells on Jerry. It's no fault of Meaney's; the character, simply put, just isn't all that interesting.

interMission doesn't make much of an impact - it's the kind of movie you'll pretty much forget about after leaving the theater - but the performances keep things moving, even through some of the more superfluous moments.

out of