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Intermission

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Directed by John Crowley, starring Colin Farrell, Colm Meaney, Kelly Macdonald, Shirley Henderson, Cillian Murphy, Ger Ryan, Brian F O'Byrne, Michael McElhatton, Deirdre O'Kane, Dermot Wilmot and Tom O'Sullivan.

'Intermission' comes with a heavy weight of expectation. It's the film debut of acclaimed theatre director John Crowley and Dublin playwright Mark O'Rowe ('Howie The Rookie', 'Crestfall'), with a veritable who's who of Irish talent making up the ensemble cast, including Cillian Murphy (currently riding high Stateside with '28 Days Later') and now-stratospheric Dubliner Colin Farrell.

As foulmouthed Dublin skanger Lehiff, Farrell is a violent petty criminal trying to pull off a final job before he retires to a life of cosy domesticity. He joins forces with the heartbroken John (Murphy) whose ex-girlfriend, Deirdre (Macdonald), has shacked up with Sam (McElhatton), the manager of the bank that Lehiff plans to rob. Meanwhile, vigilante Detective Jerry Lynch (Meaney) is keeping an eye on Lehiff, determined to bring his own brand of rough justice to the scumbags - and get it all on camera for TV reporter Ben (O'Sullivan).

Although complex, the multiple storylines are clearly defined in O'Rowe's inventive screenplay which is scattered with acutely observed scenes of Dublin life - such as a pub-bound paraplegic holding forth on the joys of Guinness - and plenty of colourful language. He also has an eye for the quirky, humorous details of the everyday; there's a running gag about HP sauce in tea and a pompous supermarket manager who spouts management clichés at his staff. The characters are as clearly delineated. Although Colin Farrell's Lehiff, with his wok fascination, and Cillian Murphy as the emotionally inarticulate John (despite being in love with his girlfriend, he broke up with her as a "test") are strong performances, Colm Meaney's is standout. His character has "a fondness for Celtic mysticism" and Clannad which is at odds with his avowed "desire for justice" and Dirty Harry-like attitude towards criminals.

With a total of 11 interlinked storylines and 54 characters, this is a hugely ambitious undertaking for a first time director and screenwriter but, to their credit, John Crowley and Mark O'Rowe have created an occasionally uneven but largely enjoyable movie, full of odd interludes and dark-as-porter humour. It may not be as sharp or as funny as it thinks it is but, nevertheless, 'Intermission' is an Irish film well worth watching.

Caroline Hennessy

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