The Intouchables

Review No. 467

The memories, the smiles “The Intouchables” left me with are “intouchable.”

intouchables

A-MINUS

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY OLIVIER NAKACHE AND ÉRIC TOLEDANO. STARRING FRANÇOIS CLUZET (PHILIPPE) AND OMAR SY (DRISS). ALSO STARRING ABSA DIALOU TOURE, ALBA GAÏA KRAGHEDE BELLUGI, ANNE LE NY, AUDREY FLEUROT, CHRISTIAN AMERI, CLOTILDE MOLLET, CYRIL MENDY, GRÉGOIRE OESTERMANN, MARIE-LAURE DESCOUREAUX, AND SALIMATA KAMATE. DISTRIBUTED BY THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY ON MAY 25, 2012. PRODUCED IN FRENCH BY FRANCE. RUNS 1 HOUR, 53 MINUTES. INTENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES, DUE TO DRUG CONTENT AND PROFANITY.

THE INTOUCHABLES WAS WATCHED ON APRIL 27, 2013.

“This is not just a job anymore.” –Driss (Omar Sy)

As I try and think back to a better time I’ve had at the movies, I feel like I’m subjecting myself to a mental whipping. I watched France’s The Intouchables at a local film festival in late April; one of the festival’s producers prefaced the film by noting that this was one of several films that ended up under the radar last year. Prior to watching the film, this seemed like an indifferent statement. It happens to so many foreign films, for better or for worse, that I just couldn’t help but feel otherwise. But now, I’m curious what dramatic comedy any American would desire to watch instead.

The Intouchables centers on two characters: Driss (Omar Sy) and Philippe (François Cluzet). Driss is a young, African-American male living in a downtown area of France. His family has always hated him, and one day, his involvement in a robbery loses any respect they had for him and exiles him from his household. He needs a job, and he finds himself on a trial period as a caretaker for the middle-aged Philippe (François Cluzet).

Most would think Philippe couldn’t have chosen anybody worse for the job: others interviewed didn’t exactly care for the job, but at least they could sit through an interview without being utterly rude. It’s barely moments after Driss walks into the mansion that he is basking in the upper-class glory; introducing Philippe to the joys of smoking marijuana; taking vigilante action on neighbors who illegally park in front of the mansion; and insisting that the orchestra stop playing Vivaldi so that he can tune his iPod to Earth, Wind & Fire. And yet what Philippe sees in all of this is a heart that no other caretaker could possibly have.

We’ve met the characters in The Intouchables before. This is an “odd couple” movie that doesn’t break any new ground, except for that in sophistication and charm. It feels genuine when the “odd couple” movies we’re used to aren’t the most lavishly told. The Intouchables relies on light, amusing conversations to tell a story about how two polar opposite men can build an unbreakable (and unpredictable) bond with each other. It’s a rather touching story, yet at the same time, a hilarious one. Yes, it’s formulaic; yes, its characters are slight caricatures; and yes, those are both, in all technicality, “flaws.” But I hate to smack that word down on this film. It doesn’t aim for perfection, but it does aim to be a memorable artwork. And it is, no matter how many “odd couple” flicks you’ve seen.

STAY TUNED FOR MY “AMOUR” REVIEW @4:30!

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