Friday, February 21, 2003

Intacto ("Intact") (IMDB) (Netflix)
Another Spanish flight of fantasy, featuring serious consequences. Max Von Sydow is a Holocaust survivor with incredible luck, and if that weren't annoying enough, can steal your own mojo from you. He's got some challengers for his top spot, though; they live among us and use up our precious karmic fluids for their own gain, knocking off the competition for the opportunity to "play" for the ultimate stakes with Max. It's as intriguing a premise as you've seen in a while, and almost as confusing, but hang in there, you might be rewarded.

For someone whose understanding of the vicissitudes of fate barely reaches "unlucky in love, lucky in parking," this was a challenge. You're continuously left to piece things together as you follow the story of people who survive plane crashes and attempt to run blindfolded across busy highways, and somehow use photographs of others to build up their ability to win at roulette, both the casino version and an insanely turbo-charged Russian variant. It's all very conceptual, but somehow I was drawn into this world, trying to puzzle through the rules of this world, and hooked by Von Sydow's gravitas and solemnity (his hit-man character in Three Days of the Condor has haunted me for almost thirty years). None of this is to suggest that the film's meaning is now clear, however, or that the payoff is overwhelmingly rewarding. For those who appreciate originality, have a tolerance for ambiguity and enjoy the process of solving the puzzle more than the result.