Europeans Stuck in Expressionist, Firelit Jungle


Not the least of the jolts in Lars von Trier’s masterful Dogville was the notion that the Dogme movement might produce greater films posthumously than in life. Having set the bar low with his miserablist-chic The King Is Alive (2000), Kristian Levring makes significant progress with his first post-Dogme film. Opening deep in the Malaysian jungle with a British surveyor (JJ Feild) and his fiancée (Janet McTeer) arriving at a 1920s ivory-trading outpost run by an elderly widow (Olympia Dukakis), The Intended threatens to repeat King‘s Europeans-stuck-in-exotic-places scenario, but fortunately abandons its existential pretensions. What’s left is a taut noirish thriller that unfolds in a fever of firelit ambience. Levring, casting his DV camera against type, eschews the equation of video with doc-like authenticity in favor of expressionist lighting schemes—a key confrontation between the widow’s conniving son and the local priest plays out with the men’s eyes nearly reduced to black holes.