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Spain 2001
Directed by
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
108 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Ruth Williams
3 stars


In an isolated Spanish casino Holocaust survivor, Sam (Max von Sydow), the undisputed king of good fortune, waits to meet someone who is luckier than him in the deadly game of Russian roulette.

Intacto is Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s first feature. Some directors would have chosen a story a little less complicated but Fresnadillo spent years constructing the script with its elusive central concept and complex structure. What if luck was a gift that caused some people to survive against all odds? And if that gift could be taken away by others would they do so? It’s a fascinating premise that in reality is not that far off the psychological games played on the sporting field or the battlefield. Convince the opposing team that you are going to win and watch as their bravado disintegrates before your eyes.

Casting Max von Sydow as the luckiest of men was an inspired choice. The weariness in his voice and the lack of joy in his eye soon reveal that survival is not necessarily all it is cracked up to be. When his chief sidekick and protégé Federico (Eusebio Poncela) is willing to walk out without saying good-bye, Sam learns the hard way that nothing buys you nothing. Respect and love cannot be expected or demanded. When as a result of Federico's intervention Sam is challenged by Tomas, (Leonardo Sbaraglia) an equally blessed opponent who is the sole survivor of an airplane crash in which 237 passengers and crew died, all cards are thrown up in the air and it is no longer clear where they will land. Is love the deciding difference? As these men play out their fate Sara (Monica Lopez), a detective who has had her own brush with luck is hot on Tomas’ trail for a robbery he committed.

Described as a cerebral occult thriller, with Intacto. Fresnadillo has managed to create a film that persuasively delivers its thesis that luck is not just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.




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