Intacto (****)

(2001) dir. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo – w/ Leonardo Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela, Mónica López, Antonio Dechent, and Max von Sydow

Synopsis: The premise of this movie has to do with luck. Namely, that some people have it, and some people don’t. Except that, in the make-believe world of this movie, it’s more complicated than that: the people who are truly lucky have this luck because they have the gift of being able to steal luck from other people. Moreover, these lucky people play games with their luck—winner-take-all games of chance. Strange games. Bizarre games. The movie is built around the lives of two men: Tomás, who has the gift of luck (he was the sole survivor of a plane crash) and Federico, who lost his gift but is able to introduce Tomás to the ‘games’.

Review: OK, so the premise of this movie has to do with luck. It’s admittedly a somewhat silly premise. Some people are just inherently lucky? Some people can “steal” other people’s luck? It’s points like this that make the film seem kind of ridiculous and open it to all kinds of parodying. Incredibly, though, it works. Probably in part because the film doesn’t get bogged down in any kind of the quasi-philosophical blather that you might expect to dominate a movie that’s all about luck. It doesn’t hurt that the actors excel in their roles, or that the story, once you assimilate its assumptions about luck, is well-written, or that the atmosphere of the whole film is fed into by a wholly appropriate soundtrack. The whole story, from beginning to end, is strangely captivating. Better still, the movie doesn’t spoon-feed you all the minor details and causalities that comprise its logic—you’re forced to figure out things as the movie progresses. It makes you think, but it’s not unduly complicated.

Rating: [••••] out of [•••••]

Etc: No one’s born lucky. But the idea that they are still makes for a decent movie.