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Heroes of the Zeroes: Intermission

by on June 1, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

Rated R

“Intermission” is for women seeking a romantic comedy that doesn’t reduce relationships to cutesy-poo homilies. By adding shootouts and car chases, it’s for guys who are just not that into goo, either.

Alongside “Boy A,” John Crowley’s 2003 feature-film debut is a lark, but one in which the intersecting ensemble (exaggeratedly) takes lumps we all go through on the way to love we want.

“Intermission” attacks love’s neurotic, vindictive and violent edge with, to borrow his phrase, weight it deserves — a bloke-and-smoke spin on “Love, Actually” that can be unexpectedly and brazenly bloody.

Hair-trigger criminal Lehiff (Colin Farrell) opens the film with a fist to a helpless clerk’s face, a wallop to establish “Intermission” as both harsh and hardy-har-har. He’s part of an Irish motley crew brought together after John (Cillian Murphy) and Deirdre (Kelly Macdonald) break things off.

Entering the fold are a self-absorbed cop (Colm Meaney), Deirdre’s spurned sister (Shirley Henderson), a sexually vengeful abandoned wife and a close cousin to “Better Off Dead’s” paperboy, only with raving psychopathy.

“Intermission” fleetly jigs through its genres with a reedy, bantamweight swagger. Not long after the humorous hell of an aged singles club where Billy Ocean is still a hot groove, the story shifts to a bout of wild sex that turns legitimately harrowing with a sock to the jaw.

Attitudes flare, anger erupt, moods shift. These characters’ Irish eyes cry more than they smile in a film that depicts the truly downtrodden downtime between relationships rarely seen in all-star romances.