23 June 2012 | guy-bellinger
With "Intrusions", a thriller he wrote and co-directed (with Marcia Romano) in 2007, Emmanuel Bourdieu commits THE cardinal sin: he fails the ending. By botching the conclusion, the director obliterates all the (genuine) efforts he has hitherto made to hook the audience (bringing together a prestigious cast, being able to create an intriguing atmosphere, building up suspense). For, just when the viewers'minds are ready for the big one, what does he do in the last twenty minutes but cause the house of cards patiently built to collapse all at once.
The basic concept was promising though. In Bourdieu's script, (as echoed by the title, "Intrusions"), each of the main characters intrudes into the others'lives. The most conspicuous intrusion is that exerted by Alexis, an unemployed worker, on Pauline, a rich heiress, by invading her living space and by blackmailing her. But all the characters are also some kinds tyrants and monsters attempting to dominate and manipulate the others : tycoon de Saché invading his daughter Pauline's privacy, while Pauline forces herself on humble employee François, while François intrudes into Alexis' marriage, and so on and so on. Such a starting point offers hope for a powerful, tense, unsettling work. One of those black diamonds in line with Visconti's"The Damned", Losey's "The Servant", or Chabrol's "La Cérémonie", in which the boundaries between good and evil are blurred, where dark souls and toxic attitudes open the door wide to tragedy.
Alas, this is far from the case. Admittedly, as long as the points of the story are being set the desire to know what will happen next makes "Intrusions" quite watchable. There is even a rather fascinating part showing how a seemingly harmless creature like Alexis can harm someone through mental violence. But as soon as Bourdieu proceeds to the resolution phase the whole structures comes apart and disbelief sets in. This is particularly true of the dinner sequence, during which Pauline has decided to swap roles (she becoming the maid and the maid the lady of the house) and which is supposed to be the climax of the film. A thriller will never get over a failed end and "Intrusions" does not disprove this truth: you leave the theater with the impression of having seen a bomb even if there were some good points before the final scenes.
Too bad, because Emmanuel Bourdieu has made good films before ("Candidature", "Vert Paradis", "Les amitiés maléfiques") - and will probably make better ones in future. But, here, he has made fatal errors besides the failed ending: he leaves the history and motivations of his characters too vague, he uses heavy symbolism instead of subtle psychology (the red dress, the white rose, the pillar inside Pauline's house, etc.), he has ambitions beyond his capacity (Buñuel, Polanski or Cronenberg would have made the most of the dinner sequence, obviously not Bourdieu). To make matters worse, he gets only one-dimensional performances from his fine actors : Natacha Régnier is too hieratic, Denis Podalydès too sleepy, Jacques Weber too overbearing, Amira Casar, too cheeky, etc.
What can be said in the end is that Emmanuel Bourdieu's foray into the thriller world is nothing but an... intrusion. Let him tackle sociological, philosophical or historical subjects. He is far better at them.