The Intouchables (2011)
Cast includes: Francois Cluzet (Tell No One), Omar Sy (Micmacs), Audrey Fleurot (Midnight in Paris)
Writer/Director: Olivier Nakache (Tellement proches), Eric Toledano (Tellement proches)
Genre: Comedy | Light drama | Based on actual events (112 minutes) French with subtitles
When Driss sees the police car in the rear view mirror, he doubles down. “100 euros says I can lose them.” Philippe responds passively. The Maserati really flies… giving us a whirlwind tour of Paris. They would have lost them, had Driss not taken a wrong turn. When Driss, the tall Senegalese driver, gets out of the expensive car, it’s not hard to imagine what the police are thinking. But when he carries on about getting Philippe to the emergency room, the police insist on giving them an escort. Back in the car… off and running again… Driss announces, “This calls for a change of mood.” And the unlikely pair are soon laughing and bobbing their heads to new music with a thumping beat.
After the opening credits, we go back to the beginning with Driss sitting in a grand hallway of a Paris mansion with a group of job applicants. While the beautiful Magalie is conducting interviews behind closed doors, Driss is looking over the collection of Faberge eggs. Sick of waiting his turn, Driss finally cuts the line. All he needs is a signature so he can keep getting his unemployment benefits. But Magalie interviews him anyway, despite his flip answers. Asked about his motivation for wanting the job, Driss simply looks her over and gives her a devilish wink. The job is for a home health aide for Philippe, a quadriplegic. And Driss actually shows a touch of empathy… “That’s a bummer.” All Driss wants is a signature, but Philippe tells him to come back for it tomorrow. By the time Driss returns, we’ve already seen where he lives. So it’s not hard to imagine his amazement when they show him where he’s going to be living. What?!!! And it’s even more surprising when Driss learns he’s being hired… on a one-month trial.
Before the opening credits, we can already see why this film has been so phenomenally successful in Europe. And you’ll soon see why Omar Sy won the 2012 César Award (French Oscar). Driss comes into Philippe’s life with all the clumsy exuberance of an un-housebroken, oversized puppy. While everyone else thinks hiring Driss is a disastrous idea, Philippe wants him. “He has no compassion,” they say. “Yes. No compassion. No pity.” Despite some criticism relating to political incorrectness, it’s hard to imagine a more joyful film. Although there’re rumors of an American remake, this version is close to perfect. Don’t let the subtitles keep you away. Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy have remarkable chemistry as the unlikely buddies. And the French style of humor has no Hollywood equivalent. Inspired by a 2004 documentary about a real-life pair of unlikely buddies, the blend of ingredients in The Intouchables is more delicious than the best French crème brulée.
4 popped kernels
A joyful whirlwind adventure ensues when quadriplegic Philippe hires the most improbable home health aide... ever
Distribution: Mainstream limited release
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Social Significance: Pure entertainment & thought provoking