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The Intruder (1999)

Catherine meets Nick by accident and, after a whirlwind romance, the two get married and Catherine moves into Nick's apartment only that's the start of problems when an unseen intruder ... See full summary »

Director:

David Bailey

Writers:

Jamie Brown, Brooke Leimas (novel) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlotte Gainsbourg ... Catherine Girard
Charles Edwin Powell ... Nick Girard (as Charles Powell)
Nastassja Kinski ... Badge Muller
Molly Parker ... Daisy
John Hannah ... Charlie
Charles Papasoff Charles Papasoff ... Saxophonist
Marianne Farley ... Stella / Nancy Brooke (as Marianne Therien)
Mike Tsar ... Detective Fordham
Angelo Tsarouchas ... Leiberman
Janis Kirshner Janis Kirshner ... Policewoman
David McKeown David McKeown ... Mugger
John Dunn-Hill ... Doctor
Tony Robinow Tony Robinow ... Maintenance Man
Candace Frazier Candace Frazier ... Twin
Cynthia Frazier Cynthia Frazier ... Twin
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Storyline

Catherine meets Nick by accident and, after a whirlwind romance, the two get married and Catherine moves into Nick's apartment only that's the start of problems when an unseen intruder begins playing strange mind games with Catherine in an apparent attempt to drive her insane. Catherine first suspects Nick is behind it, then suspicion moves to his business partner Badge, then to Nick's friends, until Catherine suspects that Nick's first wife Stella, who commited suicide years before, may be behind the occurrences which she may be committing from either beyond the grave, or by a time vortex within the apartment itself which may have let to her suicide in the first place. Written by Matthew Patay

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 November 1999 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

A Intrusa See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Bailey's second film fails to click
3 July 2001 | by FilmFlaneurSee all my reviews

'The Intruder' is the second film by London fashion photographer David Bailey (his first: the obscure 'Who Dealt' was made for TV in 1993). Rather ostentatiously, Bailey's still photographs add a calculated touch of class to the somewhat anonymous and cavernous modern interiors in which much of the action takes place. How ironic then, that this silent clutter of his more successful art on walls and furniture makes the weakness of his motion picture even more disappointing! Mostly told in a single long flashback, while a shocked Catherine is questioned by police, this is a low budget scare story which falls short of being really frightening.

As Catherine, actress Charlotte Gainsburg proves simply too weak a presence to make a persuasive narrator of events. Her somewhat tremulous voice-over at the beginning lacks any sense of horror or conviction. Part of the blame can be found in the script, which leaves Catherine's character weak and undeveloped as a victim. As Nick's benighted wife, one feels she is merely a cipher for the terror that the director seeks to impel upon the audience, rather the source of any paranoia herself. What suspense there is in the film springs not so much from her dread of the supernatural, but from the much less interesting enigma of her husband's past romantic life, and how it affects the present. Catherine is left adrift, ultimately until the audience's only interest in her springs from deciding whether she will wind up alive or dead.

'The Intruder', despite the quantum mechanics mumbo-jumbo introduced to explain the goings-on, is at heart a ghost story, Nick's huge apartment the 'haunted house'. (At one point Catherine actually uses candles to light her way in a darkened room). Such narratives rely a great deal upon sustained tension wrought through carefully created atmosphere. In his attempt to manipulate mood, right from the opening scenes, Bailey introduces a solo saxophonist who repeatedly plays a lonely vigil, outside of the main plot and characters. His presence is never logically explained and with each repetition of this scene, it seems more and more superfluous. In addition this musician is patently unaffected by the snow, which falls almost continuously outside as events unfold inside. Whenever we are within sight of a window, inevitably there are thick flakes falling. No doubt the snow intends to suggest a sense of coldness and isolation surrounding the characters. Instead, it draws attention to the set-bound nature of much of the action, quickly becoming a symbol of creative laziness.

There are odd moments of genuine menace and danger, indicative of the better film that might have been. Catherine vainly searching for Rosebud (her cat)in Nick's vast apartment for instance, or the death of Daisy as Catherine rushes up stairs in answer to her frantic phone call for help. Here Bailey utilises space and motion effectively, creating dread. Even the final confrontation (shot using an unusual optical 'smearing' technique) is reasonably tense. At too many other points however, matters fall down badly. Particularly ineffective is the role to given to a janitor heavy, whose 'menace', filmed with risible over-emphasis by Bailey, appears instead bathetic. 'Somethings in life are beyond our control' he intones, as if fiddling with the lock on Catherine's door makes him the key to all that transpires (he is not).

Practically all of the action supposedly occurs inside the same apartment building, where most of the characters live. Yet by the end of the film, we still no real evocation of the building or location, and this poor sense of place is a continuing handicap (perhaps stemming from uncertain location work). Compared to, say, the mise-en-scene demonstrated so successfully by Polanski in 'Rosemary's Baby', a far more successful tale of terror, the difference is revealing.. In Polanski's work, the indentification between tension and living space is absolute. In 'The Intruder' this unifying sense of place is palpably missing.

Other plot elements appear, tantalise the audience with their possibilities, and then languish. Nastassje Kinski (the only 'big' name in the cast) who plays Badge, a friend of Nick, gives Catherine a job. In a couple of scenes together, there is a hint of supressed lesbianism. The failure to develop Badge as a predatory female, while it might show admirable restraint by the script writers, leaves her character hanging in mid air. A similar feeling of underdevelopment attends the introduction of twins in the film. Catherine and Jim are introduced to two at the start of the film. Later, Catherine discovers that Nick's first wife Stella was half of a pair of identical twins as well, and visits the surviving sister. And with this intriguing echo, the idea is dropped. But then why introduce it at all?

The coda of the film, which takes place at the conclusion of Catherine's flashback, is predictable. There's no point in spoiling what drama the film still possesses at this point, but needless to say that the resolution - or not - of Catherine's ordeal is hardly original. But that is the trouble with this film: it simply can't deliver enough original terror or suspense to prove memorable. In short, an exercise in supernatural terror which should have worked out more.


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