The Intruder

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Louis Trebor (Michel Subor) lives with his dogs in the forest, deep in the Jura mountains close to the Swiss border. A recluse, he seldom sees his grown son (Grégoire Colin), sleeps – occasionally – with a pharmacist from a nearby town, and lusts without success after a local dog-breeder (Béatrice Dalle). That he’s not the warmest of men is clear from how he treats an unwelcome visitor to his home. Still, in his own self-centred way this sexagenarian loves life – so much so that after a minor heart attack, he uses his (possibly ill-gotten) savings to fly to Korea for a somewhat shady transplant: the start of an odyssey of sorts. Be advised that this partial synopsis of Denis’ latest impressionist cinepoem is tentative indeed. Little is spelled out in the elliptical, taciturn narrative; mostly we see faces in wordless close-up, long shots of land- and seascapes and obscure figures flitting through trees in the dark, all rapturously shot by Agnès Godard and mesmerically cut to a meticulous track that includes minimalist music by the Tindersticks’ Stuart A Staples. The ‘story’ is evanescent to the point of becoming a pipe-dream, albeit one grounded in corporeal matter; it’s also remarkably rich in resonance. That’s due to Denis’ unusually open-minded approach to inspiration and creation. Initially working loosely from Jean-Luc Nancy’s eponymous essay on his heart transplant (hence the themes of invasion, rejection and solitude) but also conceiving the movie as a ‘portrait’ of Subor (which in turn, through a few clips from the 1960s film ‘Le Reflux’, ties in with a decision to have Trebor sail to a South Seas paradise), she also inserts a purgatorial Pusan into his journey, presumably to facilitate the film’s funding. Potentially chaotic, this method somehow results in a haunting, enigmatic meditation on life, death, our fragile sense of identity and the wages of solipsism.

Release details

Release date: Friday August 26 2005
Duration: 130 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Claire Denis
Screenwriter: Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Fargeau
Cast: Michel Subor
Béatrice Dalle
Grégoire Colin
Alex Descas
Katernia Golubeva
Lolita Chammah
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