There is fate, and then there is luck. But what if that wasn't always so, and luck was something you could use to change what can be. What if you could choose to deploy your luck to make the finger of chance point your way. Intacto takes that idea and runs with it. Inhabiting a world populated by a cast of mysterious characters, uniquely seedy games and obsessive cops, Intacto is an bewitching look at a life of pure luck and chance.

The premise of the movie is unique. Everyone has a certain amount of luck, some more than others. The luckiest are those who tend to take the luck of others around them - like the lone survivors of plane crashes for example. Some are inherently lucky while others have the ability to steal luck from those around them. And when you pit these supremely lucky people against each other in games of pure chance you get you find out the most fortunate of them all. For over 30 years it has been Samuel (Max von Sydow), a secretive old man who lives under a casino and has never been beaten in a game of chance.

Samuel had an apprentice, Federico (Eusebio Poncela), who had lived in the same casino, and made his mark stealing the luck of patrons who were beating the odds of the house. When Federico decides to move on, Samuel, affronted, reacts by emptying the former of all his luck. Stripped of his strength and turned into a pariah, Federico begins to search for a challenger. Someone who can help him beat the old man in a game of chance, and redeem his humiliation. He gets his chance, when he meets the lone survivor of a horrific plane crash - Tomás (Leonardo Sbaraglia). Unfortunately, Tomás is a bank robber who is being relentlessly pursued by a cop Sara (Mónica López). Chance and destiny come together in an explosive ending that is no more certain than a roll of dice.

The movie has a curious style. The scenes are heavy and oppressive. Dialog is limited, which is a good thing because with all the depth brought out by the atmosphere of the movie, anything said could only sound trite. Screenplay is choppy, in a disconcerting deliberate way. Most scenes are not set up, but unfold for the characters as they do for the audience. There is a certain machismo to the games of chance, that borders on the excessive. The storyline, beyond the premise, is not entirely plausible. The net result is that the movie tends to gravitate towards being more of a graphic novel. Which is not particularly a bad thing.

Equally interesting are the games people play. They include running blindfolded across a highway, dousing the head of contestants in molasses and seeing if a bug chooses one over the others and the ultimate - firing a loaded gun with five bullets in six chambers at an opponent's head.

This is a truly original movie. It might not be the most well adapted, or the most brilliantly made. But it has a certain charisma to it. Like a craggy old man with piercing blue eyes, it is oddly disconcerting and keeps you intrigued. There are moments of brilliance, and moments of silliness. But as luck would have it, it all works out to be deeply engrossing.

April 24, 2011


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