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.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: OLIVIER NAKACHE, ERIC TOLEDANO
STARS: FRANCOIS CLUZET, OMAR SY, ANNE LE NY, AUDREY FLEUROT, CLOTILDE MOLLET
RUNTIME: 112 MINS APPROX