Grime and Punishment: Irish Thriller Takes a Bathroom Break


There are still a few trainspotters left on the platform, to judge by Intermission, which sometimes attempts a working-class Irish rendition of the sub-Altman epic ensemble—Love Actually with a brogue—but mostly mimics the scatologically spiked hustle of Danny Boyle’s 1996 epoch-maker, which at this late date remains the well-thumbed handbook of the ever fundable Edgy Youth Picaresque.

In a retail-park slab of suburban Dublin, slacker shelf-stacker John (28 Days Later‘s Cillian Murphy) blows a gasket when reliable sources ID his recent ex, Deirdre (Trainspotting vet Kelly Macdonald), canoodling with a “baldy cunt” who’s also an adulterous bank manager; elsewhere popping veins are violent cop Jerry (Colm Meaney) and psycho crim Lehiff (Colin Farrell, on furlough from Hollywood schlock), while Deirdre’s mopey, mustachioed sister Sally (Shirley Henderson, conscribed by secret act of parliament to appear in all U.K. co-productions) hasn’t recovered from her last breakup—let’s just say that Sally’s deranged boyfriend upped the ante on Trainspotting‘s shit-the-bed quotient. (Thankfully, the movie shows rather than tells this fetid backstory; one would have wished the same when John pukes at work.)

What this ragged, ribald crew shares is lovelorn self-pity (we are asked to believe that the absurdly beautiful Murphy would have to date-hunt at disco nights for middle-aged hens) and, eventually, a bank robbery gone awry. Admittedly, Intermission‘s first scene literally packs a punch, but the profane bark of Mark O’Rowe’s script thereafter can’t match that opening bite; nor can the color-drained grain of the frantic handheld DV, which adds store-bought grit to the film’s crudely penciled rogues’ gallery. Like a loud and intermittently charismatic drunk at a dreary dive bar, Intermission grabs your attention, but in no time you’re looking for the nearest exit.

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