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Four people are connected by fate, and discover that luck is something they cannot afford to be without. Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia) is a young thief and sole survivor of a horrific plane crash; Federico (Eusebio Poncela) has survived an earthquake and discovered he has the power to rob those around him of their good fortune; Sam (Max von Sydow) is the ultimate survivor, who lost everything but his life in a Nazi concentration camp; Sara (Monica Lopez) is a policewoman who walked away from a car crash that killed her family.

Review by Louise Keller:
A circular story about luck, Intacto is an intriguing, if pretentious film that explores the premise that luck is actually a commodity that can be acquired or taken away. Director/writer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo centres his story around Sam, the holocaust survivor, whose winning achievement was keeping his life. He may run a successful casino, but lives an isolated existence, allowing only his most trusted to see his face. The rest of the time, he wears a black hood, fearing that if the wrong person looks at him, his luck will change. But he continually questions fate, by pitting his life against others who are blessed with ‘the gift’ of luck, but always believes himself to be superior in his ability of retaining his luck.

Those who have ‘the gift’ belong to an elite club who gamble for stakes of varying values. Intacto is like an edgy road movie for gamblers. Playing for houses, boats, paintings may be the start (playing for money is not allowed), but then the stakes become higher and ultimately the price of life is what is at risk. The gambling takes different forms – from the conventional playing of roulette in the casino in the opening scenes, to the bizarre encounter in the small rooms in which we see whose head a grasshopper selects. Then there is the terrifying run through a forest filled with trees completely blindfolded; the last person to still be running (without smashing into a tree) is the winner. It’s perverse, fascinating and frustrating.

Just like a big jigsaw puzzle. There are plenty of different shaped pieces, but it’s not until the last twenty minutes of the film that we begin to see the shapes come together. Max von Sydow grounds the film with his haunting, tragic Sam, but there are compelling performances from all the cast, especially Eusebio Poncela’s Federico and the charismatic Leonardo Sbaraglia, as Tomas who Federico uses as a weapon. There are flashbacks peppered throughout, although it is often difficult to work out who fits in where. It’s all a bit of a muddle and at times I felt terribly manipulated and irritated by it all. Nonetheless Intacto offers an ethereal, dense and thought provoking tale, which coupled by its distinctive look and lingering soundtrack, leaves us feeling stimulated, if chilly.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There’s not a boring second and not a wasted shot throughout Intacto, starting with its opening image of a neon lit casino, a single complex nestling in the foothills of a dramatic mountainous landscape. The shot makes physical some of the eerie and intangible notions that drive the film’s premise: luck as a force that inhabits some people. And these ‘some people’ can pass it on through physical contact, like a big hug. OK, this sounds a trifle thin for a two hour movie, and it is, but the sheer cinematic style of Juan Carlos Fresnadillo manages to make it entertaining and engaging, if not quite overwhelming.

Excellent work from DoP Xavi Giménez gives the film a truly gritty yet ethereal tone, the production design by César Macarrón gives the film a solid reality that contrasts with its subject matter and so heightens the impact, and Lucio Godoy’s score is creative and sensitive. The splendid cast make the material feel weightier and more credible than perhaps it deserves, although to be honest I am a great fan of fantasy as a source of cinematic subjects. There are great opportunities to canvass the whole range of the human condition, and Fresnadillo takes a few of them. But his main strength is in developing his idea in sufficient detail to set up some extraordinary games of chance that test the theory of his proposition.

Like the game played by three in a darkened room, when (like in all the games) the stakes are greater even than money (you’ll have to find out for yourself or it’ll spoil the film) and the winner is the one on whose head a spectacularly unusual flying insect finally lands. Most of the other games are more violent, though, and the film relies on that for its tension. In the end the concept struggles to maintain its power for the duration of the film, but it’s a fascinating work.

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CAST: Leonardo Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela, Max von Sydow, Mónica López, Antonio Dechent, Guillermo Toledo

PRODUCER: (Executive) Fernando Bovaira, Enrique Lopez Lavigne

DIRECTOR: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

SCRIPT: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Andrés M. Koppel


EDITOR: Nacho Ruiz Capillas

MUSIC: Lucio Godoy


RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 27, 2003


VIDEO RELEASE: May 5, 2004

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