Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Starring Max Von Sydow, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela, Monica Lopez.
Luck as a tangible attribute, not merely the accumulation of coincidence is the shaky premise of this accomplished, if slightly ludicrous, Spanish thriller.
Eusebio Poncela is nicely impassive as Federico, an earthquake survivor who can remove someone’s luck with a mere touch. Not surprisingly he works in a casino, 'accidentally' patting the hand of gamblers to truncate their winning streaks. His boss and mentor, (Max Von Sydow) has had the longest run of luck at all, beginning when he was the sole survivor of his pen at Auschwitz.
Soon Federico hooks up with Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia), a bank robber who miraculously survives a plane crash, and the two are hunted in turn by Sara (Monica Lopez), who walked away from the car accident that killed her husband and child. Spot the connection anyone?
'Intacto' rather pompously styles itself as a meditation on luck and fortune. In reality it’s an over-complex, pretentious thriller with a strong atmosphere reminiscent of another cinematic treatment of luck and gambling, the film of Paul Auster’s novel, 'The Music of Chance'.
Good performances and excellent cinematography just about keep the enterprise afloat, with debutant director Fresnadillo showing the confidence of a born filmmaker throughout. Circular movement is a dominant motif, the turning blades of a jet engine mirroring the action of a roulette wheel and the spinning of a revolver’s chamber.
The games of chance provide the best visual set pieces. Three players sit blindfolded with treacle-daubed hair, hoping that a brilliant green praying mantis will choose their head to land on. Six contestants race blindfold through dense forest, the losers running into trees as the winner miraculously avoids collision.
The lookalike factor is a little distracting, with mysterious fortune vampire Federico a potential double for Will Self on Shooting Stars. Sara the pursuing police officer looks so like Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark that I half-expected her to lower her gun and administer a stern grilling on the issues of the day instead.
'Intacto' might be memorable and occasionally intriguing, but the preposterous script means that it fails to reflect the considerable potential of its crew and cast. Fresnadillo can and will do better.