L'Intrus is inspired by the eponymous book by philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, an intimate reflection on the idea of intrusion following his heart transplant. Claire Denis transformed this story into an elliptical fiction in which a heart patient travels the world in search of a new heart, until he becomes confronted with his past in Tahiti. Denis also drew inspiration from R.L. Stevenson’s In the South Seas and Gauguin's paintings from his South Pacific period. “The idea of transplantation has always fascinated me. I often talk about transplantation in my work. It’s as if cinema can only be really interesting to me if there’s a transplant involved. There’s no such thing as literature on one side and cinema on the other. Cinema enters literature—it’s transplanted, as it were. Reading L'intrus meant a lot to me. The mental dialogue I have with that book keeps me busy to this day."