The Intruder Review
By Christopher Null
There are dozens of reviews of The Intruder online that will tell you exactly what it isn't: It isn't a conventional story, it isn't a narrative in any traditional sense of the word, and it isn't even about an intruder. What few people will actually come out and say is that it isn't really very good. It's yet another meandering piece of existentialism, signifying nothing except for what you're willing to project onto it. But director Claire Denis has built a name as an arthouse favorite based on a string of films like this, and no one's calling out the emperor.
You want this movie to be a piece about the loneliness of growing old? Sure, it can be that. You want it to be about redeeming yourself for a bad life before you die? It can be that too. It can even be a psychological mystery about spies, the black market for human organs, and illegitimate children. It's barely any of these things, but if you try real hard you can convince yourself that Denis has a point somewhere in this.
The Intruder is based on a 40-page philosophical text, written by someone who'd just undergone a heart transplant. That at least explains the melancholy scenario and the bare plot point that we can really hang onto: That an old man (Michel Subor) has obtained an illegal heart for himself. They only other point that really comes through is that he's looking for his long-lost son in Tahiti.
The rest of the film, Denis herself has suggested, is a dream to some extent. The man and the son are the only "real" characters in the film. That's actually a helpful explanation: It tells us why, when watching The Intruder, we feel like we've missed large chunks of the film, even though we were watching every frame.
I love artistic movies, but I do require they have some semblance of sense. With The Intruder, Denis is almost showing off how she can make a film that consists of almost nothing but beautiful images of hazy nonsense (and God, that awful score!), and get away with it.
The DVD includes an interview with Denis.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Thursday 17th January 1963
Distributed by: Pathé-America Distributing Company
Cast & Crew
Starring: Parichat Asadornteptai as Pia, Chaiwat Boonsungnuern as Chit - Security Guard, Peerawit Bunnag as Vick (as Peerawish Bunnag)