Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original and Thought Provoking, 13 Aug. 2005
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This review is from: Intacto [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
What if luck was a tangible thing and some people had more of it than others? What if some people were gifted with the ability to siphon off the luck of others to use for themselves, or to trade?
Wouldn't it be great to be one of the gifted? To go to a casino, and clean up at the roulette and blackjack tables by absorbing the other player's luck. However, it wouldn't feel so great if you survived an accident which your family didn't because you took their luck.
This thoughtful Spanish film addresses such questions, which wouldn't be out of place in a science fiction novel. And, as with better science fiction novels, the story is told through character interaction without resorting to special effects, and "as you know, Bob" dialogue.
That is not to say that this film is not visually engaging, there are powerful scenes that drive it along. From the claustrophobic and unsettling cicada flying around treacle covered heads in a dark room, to a breathless, blindfolded race through a forest. But there are no clichéd visual effects as luck moves from one person to another, no car chases, no climactic explosions. There is love in the film, but it is a motivation for action, rather than a subplot between protagonists.
The story is told through five of these 'gifted' people. Tomás (Leonardo Sbaraglia), the bank robber, is found in the wreckage of a plane crash with bundles of cash strapped to his torso. He wakes up in hospital to find himself in the custody of policewoman Sara(Mónica López), a sole survivor of a car crash. Neither of them know of their talent.
Federico (Eusebio Poncela) used to work in a casino, siphoning the luck from those who were winning too much money. His talent was 'deactivated', and now he is a sort of talent scout. He helps Tomás escape in return for his taking part in an underground circuit of games played amongst those with the gift.
Alejandro (Antonio Dechent) used to be a bullfighter until he realised that it wasn't much fun after he lost his fear of the bulls. A natural thrill seeker, he was on the circuit for the sheer joy of the games. After Tomás escapes Sara, she uses Alejandro to help her recapture him by joining the circuit.
And the point of the the games? To whittle down the contenders to a single person to face Samuel Berg, known as the Jew, a holocaust survivor and the luckiest of the lucky. To face him in a game of inverse Russian Roulette, with five bullets, and the challenger gets the first shot. Berg, played by Max von Sydow with his usual grandeur, has never lost.
This is clean and subtle story telling. Through Tomás and Sara we are introduced to the idea of being lucky and the games circuit. Frederico demonstrates the bitterness of someone who understands the whole process of luck, and was once talented himself but is powerless. Alejandro, the ennui of a thrill seeker who can only get pleasure from playing amongst equals. Tomás and Sara are reflections of each other. Not just because they are on different sides of the law. Despite both being sole survivors of accidents Tomás left his girlfriend before his flight (thus saving her life), while Sara still carries the physical and emotional scars of the car crash that killed her husband and daughter. Her torment is increased when she realises that she survived by taking their good fortune.
There isn't a lot of explanation in this film, but the performances provide enough through calm, assured and believable acting. The wry smile on Berg's face at the pivotal moment of the finale says more about his thoughts than ten minutes of explanatory dialogue.
Although the film is called Intact, none of these characters are. They all bear scars and guilt from their talent. They have all been broken somehow, and by that standard, they aren't very lucky at all.
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