Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 211: Tue Jul 30

The Intruder (Denis, 2004): Close-Up Cinema, 8.15pm

This 35mm presentation is part of the Claire Denis season at Close-Up Cinema. You can find the full details here.

Time Out review:
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 Claire 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.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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