Film Review – The Intouchables

| November 21, 2012

Words by Jo McTavish

Director: Oliver  Nakache, Eric  Toledano
Oliver  Nakache, Eric  Toledano
Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, and Anne Le Ny
 After becoming a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caretaker.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Albert Einstein may have been onto something when he shared his remarks regarding how humans should live their lives. I believe that it is appropriate to blend this inspirational quote with the like of Oliver Nakache’s latest offering, The Intouchables. Since 1995, Nakache has brought a beautiful portfolio of cinema to the French industry, but it is this feel-good dramedy that has sent him into international stardom.

Based on a true story, The Intouchables focuses on Philippe (Francois Cluzet), a wealthy quadriplegic who resides in a mansion in the heart of Paris. The fragility of his physical state requires a caregiver who must live and work for him, and Philippe finds that no one can do the job correctly until he hires Driss (Omar Sy) a young, former thug. With Driss’ employment, the two men develop a friendship, although the only thing that could test that companionship is Driss’ past and Philippe’s family. Only time will tell if everything will work out in the end.

The Intouchables is exactly what the title says: an inspirational, feel good movie that will touch your heart. Nakache has done an outstanding direction in translating the true story to the silver screen. In November 2011, it took only 9 weeks after its release to become the second highest hit in France, just behind Welcome to the Sticks (2008), and to add to its credentials, it sold more than 3 times the amount of tickets worldwide than The Artist (2011). Though the film has received critical acclaim (and rightfully so), I must admit that this is not the reason why The Intouchables is gratifying; in it’s very essence, it is the spine of the story the truly makes this film. The opening scene testifies to this, with Philippe and Driss speeding in a Maserati Quattroporte as they listen to Earth, Wind & Fire’s hit “September” whilst escaping the police. Graced with this hasty and uplifting introduction, the story is then told though flashbacks.

Sy brings so much depth to his character. Recently released from a 6 month jail term, Driss must find his own way to better his life. Employment encourages Driss to learn how to value himself and also care for someone who needs him the most. In the same way, Cluzet’s performance is unforgettable. He plays Philippe with charisma, passion, and decadence, and it is amazing to see a man who challenges perceptions, charges through, and truly demonstrates how powerful the mind really is. The chemistry between Philippe and Driss is complicated yet touching. The two are an unpredictable duo as they each brave a learning and cultural immersion that allows them to experience unfamiliar life lessons. I am sure that Sy will become a familiar face in the foreign cinema industry, perhaps even in Hollywood.

The rest of the cast round up the film quiet nicely and add that extra charm towards the film (something you will appreciate when you watch it!) In such a strong, performance-based film, The Intouchables also allows a beautiful structure to the cinematography and musical score that compliments moments all the way through.  Whilst I do possess a biased view in regards to French cinema, I must admit that it always seems to welcome me with open arms. I am not sure if it’s in the dialogue, movement, or even just the small things in set design, it’s often that nifty, French quirk that always brings that stretched smile; that good feeling once it all ends.

The Intouchables is definitely a must see. There are not many films that allow you to walk out and feel even better about life. The film is not all just smiles (those teary moments will have you crying with happiness). A story so simple will open the door toward a more mindful perception of life. If there is a film you must see this year, this is it. As Napoleon Hill once said, “What the mind can conceive, it can achieve.” This is exactly what this story is, and if you don’t believe me, go and see for yourself.

MM 4.5/5

* Something to make your day a little brighter.

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