The Intruder ★★★★

Escape as intrusion
From winter hell to vibrant waters.
Dreaming of the young
A past never forgets
Dog eat heart world.

I’ve written in the past that I’m never sure that Claire Denis films have satisfying endings. They have satisfying last shots or moments (Beau Travail, Trouble, and I’m still debating Bastards at least), but there is something about the finality of a narrative construction that I always have trouble placing together—her stories “close” but they always feel somewhat incomplete (and not in the way “life is incomplete, man”). But as Genevieve Yue argues in her fantastic piece on L’Intrus, “All of the film’s visions can be regarded as belonging to Louis: what he sees, or what he thinks he sees. Everything is a part of him, in a sense, but his sight, his self, is fractured.” This essentially means that Denis is a little more free-wheeling with her images as usual—they don’t necessarily add up or even force themselves to add up except in terms of a sense of paranoia, of imperialism, and longing. The film’s jumps in locations—icy tundra, bustling cities, tropical paradises—create a world that only the film’s sorrowed protagonist can traverse and imbue with a sense of melancholy, less through dialogue than Michel Subor’s soulful eyes and heaviness of his body. And the use of imagery and the sensual surface of every image makes this one of her most aesthetically pleasurable movies—the cut to the water of the ocean had something of the same effect of the color moment in In Praise of Love. Debating with a few friends after seeing it, we all had very different interpretations of the events of the plot, but they all seemed of a cohesive center (or de-center; the missing heart lying in the middle) instead of de-stabilized, and because the film ends with one central event that is set up from near the beginning (I think?), it works better than usual. Cool use of the fire title too.

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