Following a trio of failed marriages, Jane Fonda famously later observed that the point at which she knew they were over was when she began to fantasize about her husbands’ deaths. Natalia Meta’s intrigue-filled The Intruder, having made its mark at this year’s Venice Film Festival, certainly has a lot on its mind about getting trapped in the wrong relationship, and it treats the point at which one learns the hard truth about a chosen partner with a similarly cutthroat sense of finality. Érica Rivas plays Inés, a dubbing artist whose boyfriend Leopoldo (Daniel Hendler) dies under sinister circumstances just as she realizes that he’s bad news. Subsequently plagued by electromagnetic defects, which affect her ability to do her job, she sets about banishing the “intruders” within her body. Meta’s film utilizes the concept of the supernatural in both novel and stimulating ways, using it to draw attention to the dread of unhealthy, controlling relationships, in which women are often made to feel guilty for the behavior of their partners. The Intruder is challenging, both in terms of its themes and because the reliability of Inés’ perspective is particularly unclear, her increasingly fragile mental state accommodating plenty of doubt. The ambiguity between the real and the imagined effectively contributes to the mystery surrounding Leopoldo’s demise, and yet near The Indruder’s end, it begins to feel as if the film is being deliberately opaque with its storytelling, ramping up the trippy nature of Inés’ crisis to manipulate the finale into some dramatic crescendo. It’s at least consistent, as Meta’s manic directorial methods embrace mess for better and worse. That histrionic tenor helps to build a film that manages to work both as a genre piece and, more powerfully, as an allegory of sorts for those who have ever survived a toxic romance.
Published as part of London Film Festival 2020 — Dispatch 2.