In a quiet corner of the Swiss-French border Louis Trebor (Michel Subor) lives a life devoid of excitement. His past, an inconceivable mess of contradicting events, has slowly begun to catch up with the old man often blending reality with fantasy. In a dire need of a heart transplant Louis Trebor will arrange to meet a mysterious Russian woman (Katia Golubeva) before he embarks on a journey around the world meant to appease his soul.
A story whose core line of events is so incomprehensible it makes for a never-ending puzzle with plenty of missing pieces Claire Denis' latest L'Intrus a.k.a The Intruder (2004) is quite possibly one of the most challenging films to be released in recent years. Beautiful to behold yet somewhat intentionally confusing L'Intrus relies on emotions rather than logic. The journey which the main protagonist embarks on is difficult to comprehend yet it appears to be hiding plenty of clues shedding light on Louis' life.
As it is the case with most of Claire Denis' works L'Intrus is a film of strange contrasts. The beautiful cinematography is fractured with ugly images of fresh human organs, a love affair is countered with an act of denial, and a sense of guilt is channeled through a sea of images suggesting tragedy. Not surprisingly L'Intrus feeds off emotions not the logic mainstream films rely on.
There is a lot in this story that is likely to anger those who are accustomed to finding some sort of rationale in cinema. Aside from the two certainties in L'Intrus (hell - the first half of the film in which Louis contemplates his journey and small pieces of his troubled past are revealed and paradise – peaceful vistas from the South Pacific suggesting a harmony which was once part of Louis' life) the rest of the story truly leaves plenty for the viewer to contemplate.
Even though the construction of this film is quite fascinating its execution I believe provides quite a few areas that will remain utterly challenging for the unsuspecting viewer (most definitely those unfamiliar with the French director's previous films will have a difficult time understanding the premise of L'Intrus). Hence, it is probably a good idea to let L'Intrus manipulate your senses with its startling cinematography and enjoy the visual genius of Agnes Godard.
I am not convinced L'Intrus is amongst Claire Denis' most successful works yet I am positive it is one of her most sensual films (Chocolat considered). The conflicting nature of Jean-Luc Nancy's book whose text L'Intrus uses as a foundation to build its story is certainly provocative enough to spur passionate debates amidst those who feel qualified to deconstruct Claire Denis' film and arouse the curiosity of those accustomed to conventional cinema where straightforward characters are the norm. As far as I am concerned the elusive and often metaphorical nature of this film should be a good enough reason for you to experiment with the provocative style of Claire Denis.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's L'Intrus looks deceivingly good: colors are rich and vibrant, contrast is excellent quality, edge-enhancement is hardly an issue that would detract from your viewing experience, and detail is by large quite impressive. Unfortunately the print for the R1 release is PAL-sourced (improperly converted) and there is some minor "ghosting" present throughout. Those still viewing their DVDs on regular tubes however should be pleased to know that the print is so strong you will hardly notice any of the blurring those with more sensitive equipments will. It is quite unfortunate however that Wellspring have simply chosen to coy the UK Tartan disc as the print for L'Intrus is practically flawless.
How Does the DVD Look?
Even though the UK disc offers elaborate DTS track (which is rather unneeded) the R1 DVD offers only a standard French 2.0 DD track with optional English subtitles. There are hardly any issues with the presentation and as far as I am concerned you should be perfectly fine with what the R1 distribs have provided.
Aside from the original theatrical trailer, a gallery of stills, and a "filmographies" section the R1 DVD offers the same very curious interview with Claire Denis which could be found on the UK disc. UI strongly recommend that you take the time and see it as there is plenty in it that sheds light on the provocative nature of this film. Most certainly you will also learn about some of Denis' early work and the creative philosophy behind it.
If not for the inevitable PAL-NTSC port (once again) I would have given this DVD the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED mark yet as it is I will have to downgrade my evaluation. L'Intrus is an extremely curious feature that veers off in a direction many of you familiar with Claire Denis' work will recognize. Those of you who are yet to witness her authentic style...this film could be a good starting-point. RECOMMENDED.