Intruder

The “intruder” in Vicente Aranda's taut 1993 chamber drama is Angel, a vagabond who returns to Madrid after a long absence and stirs up the married life of his friends Luisa and Ramiro—the sort of premise that in lesser hands could easily devolve into soap opera. At its center is Victoria Abril's Luisa, an earth mother (and the spiritual sister of Jeanne Moreau's Catherine in Jules and Jim) who's grown up with both men and now can't choose between them. Aranda plants chilling clues to her unhappiness and Angel's bitterness in the well-crafted mise-en-scene: the couple's ultramodern house conveys their claustrophobic complacency; a pair of engraved gold rings hints at passionate escapades. Flashbacks to events as they're described to the couple's two young kids go a long way in explaining the shifting power dynamics of the menage a trois that ensues. Remarkably, only the ending comes across as contrived—it's too neat a denouement after all the emotional perversity.

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