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“The Intouchables” – Review (POSITIVE)

June 9, 2012

I like to see a culture clash of different classes come together in a film, it leaves wide possibilities to tell a very keen story. “The Intouchables” is that kind of film, but it’s in fact based on a true story. Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano share writing & directing credits in this heartwarming tale about friendship, camaraderie, and finding compassion in the most surprising of places.

The film tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a handicap millionaire named Philippe (Francois Cluzet) and his street-smart ex-con caretaker Driss (Omar Sy). It opens with a dangerous ‘get away’ drive through the streets of Paris, Driss & Philippe make their illegal speeding and chase against the police a sort of a game. As they get by with quick thinking, the movie goes back earlier on how they meet.

Philippe is looking for a new caretaker; most who’ve worked with him don’t even make it a week. Until Driss comes along, at first he’s there to get a signature so he can earn his benefits, but his off-color encounter with Philippe sparks an idea in the rich man’s head; hire Driss. Driss doesn’t show pity, he forgets at times that Philippe is handicapped, and at times will poke fun of his disability. For some this would be off putting, but for Philippe it’s something he needs to feel not so different from the rest of the world.

The unorthodox relationship is the basis for the film, and with the wrong director or writer, something like this could leave a sour taste in the viewers mouth. But, the heartwarming direction from Nakache & Toledano and the casting of Francois Cluzet & Omar Sy makes this work. Cluzet & Sy share incredible chemistry between one another, their banter and riffs between each other is priceless. You can’t help but leave a big goofy smile on your face.

For a French film, it does however take a lot of strides in the American buddy comedy formula. Polar opposites who cannot stand each other at first, leading to some ‘hilarious’ musical montages, derail the point this movie is trying to make, as well as it’s originality. One could argue that French filmmakers have studied film through American ones in the past, but it would be nice for somebody to find their own voice. I’m not being completely negative, we do the same to other foreign films; it’s a double-edged sword. That being said, what will win American audiences over with “The Intouchables” is the performances from our leads, as well as their brilliant chemistry, look pass the flaws and you’ve got a solid dramedy that hits the right notes.

On a side note, “The Intouchables” has smashed box office records in the country of France, as well as many other European countries.

GRADE: B+

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