Perhaps Claire Denis most enigmatic experience, The Intruder is a film of very few words, relying heavily on its visuals to tell its mysterious story of one man's inner strife. The film is centered around Louis Trebor, an elderly man who lives a fairly self-sufficient existence with his dogs in the forest near the French-Swiss border. Louis lives a life of solitude and while it's never truly outright stated, it's clear he was a man who neglected his son, who lives nearby but is a far more attentive father to two young children. Told in an elliptical nature, where stretches of the film are linear while others jump across the timeline of this man's life, The Intruder is an impressionistic film which gives the viewer absolutely nothing outright, offering instead a moody portrait of a man's inner turmoil. The film feels a lot like a dream, and besides Louis' son and his daughter-in-law, The Intruder intentionally makes it hard to decipher exactly how much of what we are witnessing is in fact reality and how much is a figment of this tortured soul's imagination. The elliptical narrative certainly doesn't help the film's clarity either, with the viewer forced to pay attention to small details such as the formation of scars, the changing of the seasons or locations as a a guide to help piece the story together. The film spans continents and time lines, being a story that is grand in setting but incredibly intimate in its exploration of the grisly character of Louis. Perhaps The Intruder is best described as a mood piece of isolation, solitude, loss, and regret, forcing the viewer to attempt to put the pieces together of a man's fading life. Through stillness and silence, The Intruder offers a glimpse into the psyche of a man who is deteriorating both physically and mentally, traveling to various parts of the globe where he seeks redemption and some form of peace, though it remains just as elusive as the film itself. Through impressionistic cinematography which uses an array of tight compositions and Michel Subor's cold and quiet performance as Louis, The Intruder evokes a sense of sorrow and regret, with the atmospheric soundtrack only adding to the dreamlike experience. For me, The Intruder is an impressionistic study of the regret and inner turmoil, commenting on how our worst enemy is often ourselves, with Louis as a character simply attempting to come to terms with his past mistakes, most notably the neglect he showed towards his son. One could even argue that the heart transplant itself is merely a metaphor for a man without a heart, a man whose life has been fascinating but ultimately directionless and empty, a character who intruded on the lives of others he cared about with little real empathy. While it certainly could be described as a somewhat meandering piece of existentialism, Claire Denis' The Intruder is a beautifully rendered examination of the emotions and fears of a broken old man, one thats elusive flow is bound to create a host of varying opinions as to what exactly Denis is trying to say.
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