Samuel Berg (Max von Sydow), a man who survived the Nazi concentration camps, has a unique relationship with luck in Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s sleek and arty Spanish metaphysical thriller Intacto. Having beaten death before, Berg is now the master of odds-making. Bunkered in an ominous casino that David Lynch might love on the edge of mountains and desert, the old man caters to clients with a taste for something more extreme than card bets – and takers regularly stake their most valuable possessions (including their lives and those of their loved ones) on extreme games including running blindfolded through a forest of potentially face-splitting trees, and playing a version of Russian roulette in which only one chamber is empty.
Can luck be given, taken, stolen? Does winning, like surviving, exact a toll of guilt? If someone wins, must another lose? ”Intacto” noodles around big, vague ideas, then stirs them into a baroque swirl of imagery linked in its very Spanish decorative style to such striking Iberian whoppers as ”Lovers of the Arctic Circle” and ”Open Your Eyes.” Somewhere in this broody ”Twilight Zone”-ish story about magical thinking (and the lure, to filmmakers, of garish casino culture) is a provocative and maybe even shocking thought on the Holocaust as a crapshoot. But the odds in Fresnadillo?s first feature favor the stylish over the serious.