Intacto

Intacto

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Plausibility is not a gift, it's a right. Debut director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo treats it as a plaything. Those who don't appreciate games should walk away now. And yet the game becomes a passion and whether you believe it or not, the rule is rigid: do NOT touch me.

Half an hour in and the plot remains twisted, like the plane from which the young thief Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia) is carried alive after a crash that has killed everyone. There is a casino on an island, where successful gamblers are touched on the hand by a haunted-looking Frederico (Eusebio Poncela) and they lose their luck.

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His foster father, Sam (Max Von Sydow), who lived through the Holocaust, inhabits a bare metallic room in the basement. Only Frederico is allowed to see his face. He hones his skill by playing Russian roulette with any man who considers himself luckier.

Perhaps, he owns the casino. Perhaps, life has no meaning without the power of luck to strengthen his resolve. For him, survival is a drug.

Frederico runs. Sam says he can't take his luck with him, as if it was a jewel, which it is, like the luck of the devil, like the heart of the beast.

Sara (Monica Lopez) is a cop. She is a beautiful woman with a serious expression and scars on her chest. She is looking for Tomas. Frederico is looking for him, too. Someone with that kind of luck has value beyond the booty from any bank raid. You think of Bruce Willis in Unbreakable and wonder whether Fresnadillo is nodding appreciatively at M Night Shyamalan.

Intacto has a fascination that is too rare to trap. Just when you think you are making sense of it, something happens that tells you there is another way. It is opaque in the style of Seventies art house movies, with an energy that leaps out and shakes your bones. Tarkovsky would have appreciated its dark forces.

Luck is not a gift, it's a commodity, Fresnadillo implies, like mood is meaning and movies don't need stories that follow recognisable routes. After all, the surrealists could bend reality and give it new perspective.

Intacto breathes mystery.

Reviewed on: 13 Aug 2002
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If luck is a commodity, it can be bought and sold.
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Read more Intacto reviews:

Jennie Kermode ****

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Writer: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Starring: Leonardo Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela, Mónica López, Antonio Dechent, Max von Sydow, Guillermo Toledo, Alber Ponte, Andrea San Vicente, Jesús Noguero, Ramón Serrada, Marisa Lull

Year: 2001

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Spain

Festivals:

EIFF 2002

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