Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

More than two hours of baffled incomprehension is a toughie, even for festival aficionados who still wax lyrical about L'Avventura and Hiroshima Mon Amour, as if "difficult" has bells attached.

Claire Denis is sex in a lens for the arthouse nerduli. Remember (with pulsating admiration) Chocolat and Beau Travail. If you haven't heard of these films, go away now, please.

L'Intrus, otherwise known as The Intruder (God knows why), should be watched 12 times before any kind of sense emerges. Notes from my notes: "Naked man in woods with two dogs"; "Sex, sun, country, dogs"; "women/girls/dogs"; "Men with guns carrying body in sheet across snow."

The naked man has lost the glow of youth and adopted the weathered features of a crab, petrified by ozone malfunctions. He starts off living in a cabin in the forest, with two Alaskan bow-wows, and ends up on a Tahitian island, looking for the son he has spent his whole life avoiding.

"Where is the plot?" I hear you whimper.

Forget about it. No plot, no point, except L'Intrus is consistently exciting to look at, because the cinematographer (Agnes Godard - can she be related?) has been allowed to be creative. Ditto music (S A Staples).

The story appears to involve heart transplants, dead bodies and packs of dogs. The naked man puts clothes on and travels to Japan (I am informed that this is South Korea) and does a deal with men-in-suits who might have something to do with shipping. Next, he's on the island, cleaning out a ruined shack. Then he's in hospital, giving a good impression of dying. Then he's on a big boat, returning to the land of ice and snow, with a draped coffin, containing the body of... his son?

Beatrice (Betty Blue) Dalle appears, scantily clad in animal skins, driving a sled, pulled by huskies. At this stage, all you can do is laugh. The no-longer-naked man hardly speaks. When he does, it's in French, or English. Is this significant?


Reviewed on: 18 Aug 2005
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L'Intrus packshot
Plot-defying drama about a naked man, with dogs.
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Director: Claire Denis

Writer: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau

Starring: Michel Subor, Katia Golubeva, Gregoire Colin, Bambou, Beatrice Dalle, Florence Loiret-Caille, Lolita Chammah, Alex Descas, Kim Dong-ho, Chang Se-tak

Year: 2004

Runtime: 129 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 2005

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