Claire Denis is among our most intriguing modern directors, with a poetic vision that constantly challenges traditional ideas of narrative and characterization. Her films are less about stories than ideas and moods, exploring emotional territory through the jaw-dropping visuals of her close collaborator, cinematographer Agnes Godard. "The Intruder" is by far Denis' most challenging film so far, a tightly structured puzzle of a movie that confounds interpretation at every turn. Based on a philosophical essay by French writer Jean-Luc Nancy, the film is primarily concerned with visualizing ideas rather than telling a story. Nevertheless, there is a narrative here, concerning an old man with a mysterious past who travels around the world, first receiving a heart transplant and then seeking out a son he abandoned many years before. The story seems to take place in an entirely subjective way, though, existing only in the old man's head as he drifts between memory, imagination, and (possibly) reality. The film explores ideas of intrusion from multiple perspectives -- the foreignness of modern medicine, which can replace even parts of the body; the foreignness of other cultures and the impossibility of truly entering them; the disconnections between people which make them foreign to each other. This is a powerful film which most definitely rewards multiple viewings to untangle its many layers of ideas and narrative threads. The Tartan DVD does great justice to the beautiful cinematography, and features an enlightening interview with Denis which sheds great light on the relationship between her film and the essay it's based on. Highly recommended.
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Enigmatic French drama, directed by Claire Denis. Sidney (Grégoire Colin) is reclusive and emotionally distant, whose only contact with people is a strange, wordless affair with a local pharmacist (Bambou), and an unspoken attraction to an aloof dog breeder (Beatrice Dalle). When a heart ailment forces Sidney to have a black-market heart transplant, the experience changes him completely. Rashly deciding to travel to Korea, Sidney ends up on a soul-searching voyage to his former home on Tahiti, in search of the son he fathered many years before.