The Fighting Irish

Lehiff (Colin Farrell) in Intermission
The Fighting Irish

By Steven G. Kellman

The Dubliners don't pack a great punch, but do have soul

Intermission opens with a sequence that smashes expectations and a female character's lovely nose. A sweet-talking, scruffy stranger beguiles the viewer as well as the cashier in a Dublin coffee shop. We believe him when he tells her he could be the man of her dreams. Or else, he teases: "I could be some villain just waiting for a chance to smack your jaw." With that, he pounds his fist into her face and proceeds to empty the cash register. "You never know what's going to happen," declares Lehiff (Colin Farrell) as he flees the scene.

An Altmanesque rondeau that crosscuts among working-class characters with overlapping connections, Intermission never again packs quite the punch that opens it - despite a bungled bank robbery, an employee who vomits in the aisle of a downscale supermarket, a bus that overturns after a brat hurls a rock at its driver, a cop who humiliates a perp by urinating on his shoes, and a bashful man who masturbates on camera. Never quite as unpredictable as scuzzy Lehiff claims, John Crowley's film is a rigged Irish jig whose dancers eventually all come together, in a pub of course. "Have you finished your little intermission?" one character asks another, as Intermission approaches its conclusion.

They are all the lonely people, the Dubliners of Mark O'Rowe's clever screenplay, on hiatus from amorous relationships. After her abusive English lover robs her and absconds, surly Sally (Henderson) allows a mustache to develop on her upper lip to advertise her intermission from passion. Her sister Deirdre (Macdonald) is on intermission from her attachment to her true love, John (Murphy), while taking up with a married, balding, older man. But we know that intermissions always end, and by the time that Intermission rolls its closing credits most couplings will be restored.


Dir. John Crowley; writ. Mark O'Rowe; feat. Colin Farrell, Shirley Henderson, Kelly Macdonald, Colm Meaney, Cillian Murphy (R)
Jerry (Meaney), a truculent detective who prides himself on his independence, is the most flamboyant in the film's gallery of eccentrics. A hopeless harridan who physically attacks a younger man for refusing to accept her sexual advances in a dance hall that functions as a lonely hearts club is the most desperate. The three masked men who hold Deirdre hostage but fall to fighting among themselves are the most pathetic. Intermission is comical and pitiful, intermittently.

"It's a sty, my life," Jerry, the Dirty Harry of Dublin's law enforcing pigs, tells an ambitious TV reporter. The detective cajoles him into recording his unconventional approach to fighting crime, in a melodramatic documentary called On the Streets With Jerry Lynch. Jerry prefers to put aside his gun and confront his adversaries one-on-one, with his fists. When, after a high-speed chase, he finally catches up with Lehiff, Jerry tells him: "You just don't have the requisite Celtic soul." Although its soundtrack lacks any trace of "Danny Boy," Intermission has that soul. •

By Steven G. Kellman

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