At some point last year, I saw the preview for The Intouchables, and was immediately taken in by what looked to be a very good movie. Finally getting a chance to watch it, it appears that this was another movie that could be judged by the trailer. Yes, this can be seen as yet another “two people from different worlds finding common ground and become friends” movie, as Philipe (François Cluzet) is a rich, cultured man and Driss (Omar Sy) is an ex convict from the inner city, but The Intouchables was so much more.
Yes, it is based on a true story, but still, the script is a masterpiece of writing, with an amazing mix of drama and comedy. The supporting cast are very good indeed, but the central duo is magical. The honesty and vulnerability of both characters will make you fall in love with one of the more unique, beautiful and honest friendships ever committed to film. Philipe is a quadriplegic, paralyzed in a paragliding accident years ago and unable to move from the neck down, and now in need of constant care. Driss is rough around the edges and openly (and also angrily) admits he is applying for the job just to get his unemployment benefits sheet signed. Liking the younger man’s honesty Philipe gives Driss a trial period on the job, and bets him he won’t last two weeks, daring the man to succeed.
The film shows Driss struggling through his training period — with some very comedic moments — and then goes immediately to the core as the two quickly bond, it doesn’t waste time explaining their friendship. Though Philipe’s higher society friends disapprove, thinking Driss is out to take advantage of him — he did steal one of Philipe’s Fabergé eggs after his interview — the ever sharp Philipe sees the qualities he needs in Driss. He is strong, and brutally honest about life, and both of their situations. Driss sees things now in Philipe’s world and begins to appreciate them, comically at first, but then with true interest and passion, much like how his relationship with Philipe began. Driss becomes a lover of art and classical music; while Philipe takes the lessons of Philipe’s brutal honesty to heart and employs them himself. The chance meeting really betters both men. One example being at the beginning of the film when Driss assaults a neighbour who was blocking Philipe’s driveway. The scene is mirrored nicely towards the end of the film where he now politely asks a driver to move his car.
Throughout the film we see Philipe sharing pieces of his world with Driss — purchasing fine art, fine dining, listening to classical music. Driss soon begins to paint, teaches Philipe about his musical tastes, and even assists with Philipe’s correspondence with a potential lover.
The Intouchables had an incredible balance between the drama and the humour; respect and understanding; with an incredible delivery of emotions and honesty, making the entire film seem very real. The Intouchables has broken box office records in its native France and across Europe; oh did I mention this is a “foreign film”? Yes, you have to read the sub-titles on this one, but that really shouldn’t prevent you from watching it, even if you have an aversion to them. The movie is that good. It can be described by one word: Incredible. Beautiful. Fantastic…alright, three words. I have heard rumours that The Intouchables will be remade by an American studio, with American actors, which if it happens is good, because more people will get to see the story, but it will not be the same. I will say that it cannot be done as well as the original. Do yourself a favour, and watch the original. You will not be disappointed.
I’ve had some “block” trying to write up this review for the last week, but wow, just watching the trailer again before putting this up, makes me want to watch it again right now.