Dir: Emmanuel Bourdieu. 2008. Fr. 96mins.

A moody psychological thriller deftly spun around blackmail and humiliation, Intrusions is taut and slyly entertaining for almost its entire running time. Co-screenwriter/director Emmanuel Bourdieu's follow-up to his delectable Poison Friends skewers the petty annoyances of maintaining appearances among the rich and powerful while exploring sexual infidelity's power to unseat reason in favour of revenge.

Both genuinely funny and intriguingly creepy, this effort from Arnaud Desplechin's frequent co-screenwriter will almost certainly enjoy local critical support upon its Sept 3 release. It should grace many a fest but may find commercial slots more difficult to secure. The well-cast venture wears its layers of malice and subterfuge with an eye and ear attuned to class differences. Still, audiences who prefer their narratives to adhere to reality may be thrown by a confusingly shot and presumably allegorical denouement, which gives a rushed feeling to a formerly methodical venture. Apart from that, the film sustains a very French yet accessible tone.

Rebellious rich girl Pauline's (Regnier) plan to irritate her powerful father Andre de Sache (an imposing Weber) by bedding one of his accountants, François (Elmosnino), backfires when it turns out she's pregnant. De Sache forces Pauline and François to wed. (Given the formidable elder man's non-negotiable insistence, one would never suspect that abortion is a legal option in France.)

But despite a huge instant promotion within his new father-in-law's firm, a mere three months later François wants out. He's in love with somebody else. The chain of skewed romantic partnerships doesn't stop there.

A daddy's girl whose daddy hasn't done her any favours, Pauline segues into Woman Scorned mode with the same privileged haughtiness she brings to every aspect of her life. Accustomed to having others do her bidding, Pauline is curtly impatient with the contractor in charge of renovating portions of the estranged newlyweds' spacious home in a ritzy Paris suburb. The specialist strongly advises against removing a pillar from the ground floor that Pauline dislikes on aesthetic grounds but that happens to be supporting the ceiling above it.

Meanwhile, a nondescript and morose man (Podalydes) worms his way into the construction crew. And there's something not quite right about the live-in maid Muriel (Casar), who manages to interject an undercurrent of mockery into her dutiful and solicitous approach to her job. A sudden death, a purloined cell phone, six figures in hush money and a pistol all figure in the evolving tale.

There's nary a pleasant character in sight, but Bourdieu has a knack for making distasteful individuals fun to watch.

Production companies
Canal Plus
TPS Star

International sales
Rezo Films
(33) 1 42 46 96 10

Gilles-Marie Tine

Screen play
Emmanuel Bourdieu
Marcia Romano

Thomas Bataille

Production design
Nicolas de Boiscuille

Gregoire Hetzel

Benoit Quinon

Main cast
Natacha Regnier
Denis Podalydes
Amira Casar
Jacques Weber
Eric Elmosnino
Françoise Gillard