The Intouchables (2011)


The Intouchables is a movie that has garnered a hell of a lot of praise. It’s based on a true story and the focus is on a disabled man and his carer. So you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a worthwhile, but potentially dull and/or downbeat, film. You would, however, be very very wrong. The Intouchables is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time and not only does it deserve all of the praise and goodwill it has been receiving but I hope it just keeps getting more and more.

Francois Cluzet stars as Philipe, a quadriplegic aristocrat who hires Driss (Omar Sy) to look after him. This confounds everyone else because it’s clear that Driss doesn’t have the attitude of a qualified carer. In fact, he only turned up to the interview to get a signature that would allow him to keep claiming his benefits. He’s crude, untrained and has a bit of a temper, which is why Philipe wants him in the role of carer. He doesn’t want to be handled with kid gloves any more and looked at with pity.

With all of the elements in place (being based on a true story, having a main character with a major disability, looking at bonds forming between two characters who seem to be at polar opposites), it’s quite a feat that The Intouchables feels as fresh and wonderful as it does.  The script and direction by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano have a large part to play in the success of the movie but those solid elements are improved 200% by the consistently great cast. Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy give performances that deservedly won an award or two while Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot, Clotilde Mollet and everyone else succeed in making everything feel very real and incredibly effortless. While the drama is effective and very well-handled (things veer close to being a bit overloaded with sweetness but the film somehow manages to avoid that pitfall), the film plays out so well and manages to remain entertaining from start to finish thanks to a large helping of good humour. The interplay between Philipe and Driss is a highlight but there are also a number of other elements and exchanges that give the movie a much better smile/laugh quota than many other films that have been released and advertised as actual comedies.

It’s not one of those movies that reminds you how truth can be stranger than fiction but it is a movie that reminds you of a lot of things in our world we often overlook – how intelligence comes in many different forms, how people can get along with each other despite differing social backgrounds and upbringings, how comedy can be an effective defence/offence during some dark times. And, perhaps most importantly, how much there is around us to explore, enjoy and allow to benefit our lives. This is an uplifting and heartwarming film in the best possible sense, make sure that you see it as soon as you can.


Film Rating: ★★★★½

  1. Chris Knipp says

    It’s enormously successful, 2nd highest box office score in French film history, but it has come in for some very serious abuse as well as praise and for some reasons worth considering–its stereotypes, racial cliches, lack of originality. I’m surprised you don’t mention all that. I found it very enjoyable. Most people do. But like A Joyful Noise, it requires you leave your sophistication at the door.

  2. Kevin Matthews says

    I didn’t mention those things because they honestly didn’t come into my mind while watching the film. A lack of originality was something I considered before the movie started. And then it started and made its own mark. As for the stereotypes and racial cliches, I think every character had a LOT more to them than what was initially implied and that helped to defy both audience expectations and the reactions of those around the central characters.

  3. Tue Sorensen says

    I will watch this as soon as possible! 🙂

  4. Kevin Matthews says

    I hope you enjoy it, mate.

  5. John-Paul Pierrot says

    I didn’t see your review before I wrote mine. Glad we agree! It’s definitely the warmest film of the year so far.

  6. Kevin Matthews says

    It had a few different titles and I think when I went to confirm it from the listing on IMDb it was called The Intouchables and now it is Untouchable. C’est la vie.

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