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Writ. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Andres M. Koppel
Dir. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Str. Leonard Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela, Max von Sydow
Opens December 6th

What Should One Do With Underserved Luck?

Intacto is being hailed as the Spanish movie that is re-inventing the Thriller. I love it when studios classify a movie into a genre without actually seeing the film. "Intacto" they say, "well now that sounds mysterious, let's call it a thriller." Much like "Shakespeare in Love… gosh! That sure sounds award winning, lets throw some Oscars at it." The only thing thrilling about Intacto is that Max Von Sydow isn't dead yet. For christ'sake the man was in the Seventh Seal, a movie that was made, like a zillion years ago. Please, someone cut the puppet strings and pull the energizer out of his brain let the poor man sleep.

The Pros

Intacto has a startlingly original premise. Namely that luck is not a cosmic force governed by fate or God or some karmic trading post. Luck is a very fungible, even tangible thing. Everyone carries their luck with them and it can be given to other people. Likewise, luck can be taken, it can be lost, and most importantly, Luck can be gambled. The creators of Intacto, Fresnadillo and Koppel, take this idea and run with it. And they run pretty damned far. In exploring this premise they develop a very vivid, utterly unique way of looking at the world. If luck is something physical and finite, they reason, then one must be able to collect it, one should be able to steal the luck from those around him and horde it like a twisted Scrooge McDuck. Fresnadillo and Koppel take it several steps even beyond that. There are those of us that are truly lucky, they say, those that have survived horrific accidents and plane crashes, or weathered enormous natural disasters; those that win huge amounts of money at casinos when the odds are stacked so completely against them. There are those that carry 'The Gift.' What kind of lives would such people lead? What sort of jobs would they have? How would they stop being bored with life if they are always winning at it? How would they be able to gamble with their luck, if they are so lucky that they win everything they play? The sheer depth of the imagination of this movie is a marvel.

Max Von Sydow is one of the greatest actors in the world and he gets to play one of the most original characters I've seen in years; you can see that he is tickled as near to pink as his ancient jowled face will allow. All of the acting is above board, singularly nothing stellar, but all-around, a very impressive ensemble performance, garnering a Best New Actor award for Sbaraglia and a Best Actor nomination for Poncela at this year's Goya awards. Intacto also garnered a host of other nods, and a Best Director win for Fresnadillo.

The Cons

Fresnadillo takes his movie much to seriously. There is earnestness to Intacto that betrays a valiant, but misplaced attempt at a very vague allegory. He tries to capture the loneliness and despair that surrounds his fortunate few and asks that his audience relate to that and pity them, and this all drags the film down needlessly. The vision of Intacto is so vibrant that there is no need for the heavy handed importance, it would be just as engaging if it was upbeat, and it would be a lot more fun. In fact, there is a natural air of whimsy to the entire premise and production and consequently the severity feels quite out of place. Every one of the four main characters is supposed to be driven by their own, single-minded desperate base urge (vengeance, love, duty, greed etc) and yet none of them really work with this. The driving forces are presented with all the passion of an over-worked Vegas hustler trying to perform for an ugly under-endowed john.

The imagination of the story, and its premise, doesn't quite translate onto the screen. Fresnadillo and Koppel obviously had an amazing, full idea when they started in on this movie. However, you know you aren't getting all of their vision. There's something that never quite got onto the screen correctly the movie is so close to being a marvel that it see it fall just short like this is an even greater disappointment.


Creativity: Four of those Fifth Grade Ultra Geeks Who Were Always Making Gizmo's Out of Paper Clips
Every scene involves one more subtle twist to the world, one more imaginative addition. Especially nifty are the various games that The Lucky play with each other to gamble away their ill-gotten luck.

English: Two Why-the-fuck-is-a-German-living-in-Spain-speaking-English's
For all of you who find subtitles just too hard to deal with, be at ease. There's a healthy mix of English in here with the Spanish, so you won't get a headache.

Overall: Two and a half euro-trash hipsters smoking their gauloise
It sucks that Spain won't choose this as it's representative for the Foreign Language Oscar. Intacto would have been a very cool dark horse in the running. Despite some sophomoric mistakes, Intacto is a very slick very cool, yes, even hip, movie.

--B.C. Edwards
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[email protected] | December 2002 | Issue 33
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