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cast: Michel Subor, Yekaterina Golubeva, Grégoire Colin, Béatrice Dalle, and Katia Golubeva

director: Claire Denis

130 minutes (15) 2004
widescreen ratio 16:9
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Andrew Hook
This isn't an easy movie to watch. Even if you're looking for a film that doesn't join the dots, or expects you to paint by numbers without knowing the colours, then despite knowing those challenges you might find this movie still isn't for you. Whilst it's a visual feast, and the acting is exemplary, ultimately the pace, confusion - and in some cases sheer boredom - may well grind you down. There are rewards to be had, but I'm not sure that the trip is worth the journey.

The Intruder (aka: L'Intrus) is a character study of one man, Louis Trebor (Michel Subor), and the fractal relationships of those who come into contact with him. It is also a movie about Trebor's quest to have a perfect relationship with his son, and also a fear of that relationship. And it is also the story of Trebor's new heart, which his body subsequently rejects. Alienation, dispassion, and mundanity: these are the themes of The Intruder.

Trebor begins the movie living a somewhat idyllic, if solitary, life in the French countryside with only his dogs for company. He gives this up, quite dramatically, to travel via South Korea to Tahiti where he once had a wife and child. Throughout the movie he is shadowed, very obliquely, by a young Russian girl (Yekaterina Golubeva), although her role in the movie is deliberately understated to the point that it is unclear if she actually exists. It is also unclear whether Trebor did spawn a child in Tahiti, as his quest to find that son and establish a relationship that was lost to him seems more of a metaphor on the actual relationship he has with another son (Grégoire Colin) in France.

I got the impression that the movie is pushed forward by Denis' distinct idea of the film that she wanted to make, and that similar to poetry it can be enjoyed without necessarily understanding it, with each viewer bringing their own perspective to the piece. In a way, The Intruder is exactly what the medium of film is best placed to examine - explorations of the soul and reflections of humanity. However, there's no doubt that it can also be a frustrating experience, and some of the long, lingering, semi-pointless scenery shots were soporific. The viewer has to work exceptionally hard to gain any meaning from the story - never mind that which Denis believes might be there. No doubt repeated viewings would add layers to the film, but unfortunately I don't think it bears that second look. Life's too short!

The only extra, other than trailers for other Tartan DVDs, is an excellent 36-minute interview with Claire Denis, which is well worth watching in terms of how the movie came about, but gives little indication as to what the movie is about.

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