Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.


In the 1980s, The X-Men featured a character named Longshot whose gift (apart from the most extraordinary mullet outside of central Nebraska) was simpler than most: He was lucky. Placed in an extraordinary situation with the odds stacked against him, he had the power to beat the odds. It's anyone's guess whether Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, the gifted new Spanish director of Intacto, has ever read The X-Men, but his film is populated with characters that share the superhero's gift. In Intacto's universe, luck has created an underground culture, and evidence of extraordinary good fortune is necessary for would-be members. Some are born lucky, even if they don't know it—like Leonardo Sbaraglia, who enters the film in an extraordinary shot showing him sitting alone in the wreckage of a plane, against all odds the sole survivor of a crash. Others know how to exploit their luck, like Eusebio Poncela, who takes Sbaraglia on a Color Of Money-style trip to a massive desert casino overseen by Max von Sydow, the world's luckiest man, and possibly its saddest. The good fortune of one person, after all, accompanies the bad fortune of others. Von Sydow had the extraordinary luck to be a concentration camp's only survivor, which left him watching as friends, family, and everyone else around him went to their deaths. That cruel accounting of losses and gains lies at the center of Intacto. Though Fresnadillo doesn't always make his heady concept coherent, he keeps finding extraordinary ways to visualize it, like a blindfolded sprint through the woods in which the winner is the last person not knocked to the ground. Fresnadillo never loses sight of the emotions swirling around his cosmic balance sheet, either. His film plunges into darkness as the bloodless games at the beginning of Sbaraglia's journey through the underworld of the blessed become increasingly dependent on the suffering of others. As Sbaraglia progresses toward von Sydow's grim demeanor, nothing seems unluckier than luck itself.


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