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Intacto

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Intacto

Starring: Eusebio Poncela, Leonardo Sbaraglia
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Rated: R
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: December 2001
Genres: Drama, Suspense, Foreign, Spanish


*Also starring: Max von Sydow, Monica Lopez, Guillermo Toledo



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Harvey Karten review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Harvey Karten
2½ stars out of 4

Luck is not usually a win-win situation. For example, if six people are playing the roulette wheel and all six win, the house loses. If most of the people in the casino are getting three lemons lined up in a row and the coins are furiously dropping, once again the house loses. One person's joy, then, is another's pain. So it is with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's feature debut, "Intacto," in English "Intact," implying that some people will remain intact while others break apart. Think of Lindsay Anderson's "O Lucky Man!", a 1973 British allegory about a young coffee salesman who pushes his way to the top only to fall and rise again. But Anderson's first-class parable, which featured some top performances from Malcolm McDowell and Rachel Roberts, was unpretentious. By contrast, "Intacto" may score high on visuals, illustrating what tourists recall as the sunny playland of Spain's island of Tenerife as a seedy chamber of noir, but the plot is convoluted to the point of incomprehensibility. In fact if the spectators go into the movie withpit a basic idea of its theme, they would probably need a half hour or so to adjust to the concepts of Fresnadillo and Andres M. Koppel's murky story.

Thematically, Fresnadillo cannot be faulted for taking a gamble on two of literature's biggest themes: survivors' guilt and redemption. The story is anchored by Max von Sydow's performance as Samuel, an elderly man who was the only person in his death camp to survive the Holocaust. Tempting the fates because of his feeling of guilt, he opens a lavish casino whose most interesting game is played in a back room, where for 30 years he successfully (or unsuccessfully if you will) plays a game of Russian roulette, giving each opponent a first shot while then doing likewise with his contestant. When Federico (Eusebio Poncela), a man who possesses a similar luck is cast out, robbed of his gift by his mentor, Sam, he is intent on revenge. He links up with Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia), a bank robber who is the sole survivor of a plane crash which killed 237, putting Tomas through various paces that would allow him to challenge and hopefully to kill Sam.

Director Fresnadillo states in his notes that "the inevitable logic of capitalism becomes an extraordinary class struggle between those who possess fortune's treasure and those who don't. While online critic Walter Chaw found the story too conventional for this and other intriguing premises, viewers cannot be blamed for thinking the opposite: that the storyline is too twisted even to the point of opacity to afford the concepts a sense of narrative.

Copyright 2002 Harvey Karten

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