A grizzled recluse (69-year-old French actor Michel Subor, exuding a rugged, liver-spotted grandeur) searches for a new (transplanted) heart and an old life, a quest that takes him from a remote French-Swiss border region to the tropical isles of Tahiti (where he fathered, and abandoned, a son long ago), with a stop in Korea to purchase the boat that will become his vessel of transport. All the while, he is closely followed by an enigmatic Russian beauty (Katia Golubeva) who may be the black-market agent of his new life, or perhaps the angel of death. That story is itself the vessel by which the visionary French filmmaker Claire Denis (Beau Travail, Friday Night), inspired by a book by the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, examines the idea of intrusion as it applies to landscapes emotional, physical and geopolitical. Since its premiere at the 2004 Venice Film Festival, The Intruder has confounded as many viewers as it has enraptured — certainly this isn’t one for logicians who feel they must be able to “explain” a movie in order for it to be any good. For Denis’ film— which may be her most intricately constructed and intensely beautiful to date — is one that transcends words and stories, a movie to be felt rather than rationalized. The deeper we get into it, the more The Intruder assumes the private logic of a dream about fathers and sons, North and South, and a world at once increasingly global and ever more isolationist. And for those of us who believe in film as a kind of collective reverie, to watch it is to witness nothing short of the birth of a new cinematic language.
For Scott Foundas’ Web exclusive interview with Claire Denis, visit www.laweekly.com/film.