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Non-Review Review: interMission

interMission is a fantastic piece of Irish cinema, a broadly accessible exploration of intersecting and overlapping life in Dublin with a witty script lending the film some distinctly Irish flavour. The structure owes a little bit of a debt to Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction or even Altman’s Short Cuts, capturing a variety of perspectives on life from a reasonably-sized ensemble who only occasionally overlap with one another. It’s a funny, clever, well-acted and well-directed slice of life.

Drive of your life...

Drive of your life…

Director John Crowley has only seemed to have worked intermittently in cinema since interMission, with only two feature-length movies to his name. Crowley has a string of theatre credits to his name and has worked on short films, but it’s a shame that he hasn’t done a lot more work in cinema. While Mark O’Rowe’s witty script contributes a lot of interMission‘s charm, Crowley’s direction keeps what would otherwise be a sprawling film with too many characters relatively focused.

Crowley is assisted by a pretty wonderful cast. The headliners are all as solid as you might expect – it’s nice to see homegrown talent who have found success abroad, like Cillian Murphy or Colin Farrell or Colm Meaney, work on a a distinctly Irish film. It’s also nice to see some wonderfully less-well-known Irish talent like Michael McElhatton or Owen Roe or David Wilmont working on a project like this. interMission also draws in some outside talent. Shirley Henderson and Kelly MacDonald both do good work, even if MacDonald’s Irish accent here is just as unconvincing (if not quite as twee) as in Boardwalk Empire.

Tonight, of all night...

Tonight, of all night…

interMission is structured in a relatively loose manner, allowing us to chart the various intersections and character arcs of various characters in Dublin. These character stories overlap and run parallel in a variety of interesting ways. Some points of overlap are relative minimal, while others are crucial. It’s a nice exploration of how tightly a community can be drawn together, even while remaining so insulated that the mechanics of cause-and-effect aren’t always perceptible.

At the same time, O’Rowe’s script remains distinctly and firmly Irish, offering a wry and somewhat cynical depiction of modern life unique to the country. There are a number of absurd moments that any Irish person will recognise from day-to-day life – the sight of two double-decker buses heading in opposite directions who stop to have a chat; the smug and sarcastic attitude of a cashier in a department store; a kid on his bike with nothing to do but hurl stones at passing traffic. These are wonderfully organic snapshots of life.

Okay, her accent's not that bad...

Okay, her accent’s not that bad…

Life is, after all, nothing but the interception of the mundane and the profound. Big moments and small moments intersect, with no real ability to distinguish one from the other, save for hindsight. As Colin Farrell’s Lehiff notes in the opening scene, any moment or situation can change suddenly with little or no indication. O’Rowe’s dialogue has a wonderful rhythm to it, a natural flow. “This shite,” Lehiff notes, “you’ve got to be Stephen f&^%in’ Hawkin… Hawkins… which is it?”

The movie features a botched Celtic Kidnapping towards the middle of the film, but one rendered hilarious by the fact that the participants seem unable to divorce themselves from the smaller moments. Driving their hostage around, one kidnapper offers marriage advice like a taxi driver. Meanwhile, his colleague, seems genuinely curious about the benefits of a Wok – even going so far as to wonder about the type of oil one uses.

A big Meaney...

A big Meaney…

O’Rowe, a writer who has generally had a fondness for amping up the surreal or the strange in an otherwise mundane reality, peppers the script with moments of dark absurdity. There’s never a sense that interMission is unreal or ethereal or disconnected. rather, everything goes askew in the way that real life tends to go askew. Copper Jerry Lynch breaks up a drug deal and arrests a suspect, only to find his car stolen on returning to it. With headquarters unable to provide a replacement, Lynch has to settle for escorting the suspect back to the station in a taxi.

There’s something very natural and very real about that sort of situation, a dry sense of humour which suggests that world is a far weirder place than we’d like to think, one governed by logic and rules so far beyond what we understand that it might as well be chaos. Of course, interMission lets us in on the gag. It’s not chaos, as we can see things moving and colliding in a way that the characters can’t perceive.

Farrell out...

Farrell out…

interMission is a classic, a film well worth a look. It’s a celebration of Irish talent with a uniquely Irish world view. It’s highly recommended.

4 Responses

  1. Oh, I want to see this based on your review, Darren. Hopefully, someone will distribute the film in the U.S. Thanks.

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