Published May 01, 2004Intermission has got to be one of the bleakest and most violent romantic comedies ever made. Set in suburban Dublin, the film is a sprawling story featuring an Altman-esque cast of interconnected characters who break hearts and faces in equal measure. John (Cillian Murphy) and Deirdre's (Kelly MacDonald) recent break-up sets off a chain of events that includes a broken marriage, lost jobs, traffic accidents, a heroic rescue, heists, a kidnapping and a shoot-out. Caught in the middle of all this drama are John's best friend Oscar (David Wilmot), lonely and lovelorn, Deirdre's new beau Sam (Michael McElhatton) and his bitter ex-wife (Deirdre O'Kane), and Deirdre's emotionally damaged sister Sally (Shirley Henderson). Spicing up the story's periphery are the ruthless criminal Lehiff (Colin Farrell), over-zealous cop Jerry (Colm Meany), and documentary maker Ben (Tom O'Sullivan).
While the film purports to be about the search for meaningful love in contemporary urban society, the excessive violence, misogynist undertones and unlikeable protagonists make for an uneasy combination and really undermine any possible warm fuzzies over finally requited love. The cast is uniformly strong and the script is occasionally funny or touching, but more often than not their shocking callousness distances you from the characters and generates little sympathy for them. For what it's worth, the soundtrack is excellent, featuring early U2, Ron Sexsmith and the Magnetic Fields. (Alliance Atlantis)