Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Intacto is an accomplished and unusual film thoroughly deserving of the acclaim which it has won thus far." | Photo: © 2002 - Lions Gate Films - All Rights Reserved

An exploration of the phenomenon of luck which dabbles with the supernatural but finds its deepest mysteries in human nature, Intacto is an accomplished and unusual film thoroughly deserving of the acclaim which it has won thus far.

Following a series of stories which gradually interweave, it centres on a young man, Tomas, the sole survivor of a plane crash, who is approached by a mysterious stranger who indoctrinates him into a society where people gamble for absurdly high stakes. Innumerable references are woven into this, from the stories of Roald Dahl to ancient Chinese myths, but all so briefly and delicately that they never present a distraction, simply adding their share to the rich texture of the tale.

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Whether it's real or whether it's not, of central importance to this story is the belief shared by many of its characters that they can steal other people's luck, and can thereby gamble with other people's fates. This notion becomes so pervasive, so addictive that it draws in even those at first horrified by the risk-taking they see. The film explores gambling compulsions, psychosis, and the way in which obsessed people can gradually lose their awareness of others' humanity.

Pulling the strings behind much of this, though at first we glimpse him only distantly, is The Jew, played by the redoubtable Max von Sydow, who is possibly the luckiest man in the world. Inhabiting a surreally remote desert casino, he plays frequent games of Russian roulette as if in an attempt to expunge his own survivor's guilt, having once been the only one of a large group of children to escape from a concentration camp. The irony here, of course, is that his luck does not make him happy, merely imprisoning him in a state where he continually witnesses the suffering of others. So he waits for a luckier person to liberate him.

Intacto concerns itself not only with the physical survival which most people would call lucky, but also with the importance of being psychologically intact. It does so through layers of subtle metaphor, yet also with vivid action sequences and intense emotional encounters. You won't see another film like it this year. Don't miss it.

Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2007
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If luck is a commodity, it can be bought and sold.
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Angus Wolfe Murray ****

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


EIFF 2002

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