Before I watched The Intouchables, most of my family had watched it and said it was one of, if not, the best movie they have ever seen. Critics also seemed to praise this movie, so I took my time and watched it. Although I didn’t expect to see the “greatest movie ever”, I expected to see something good, and it’s safe to say that it didn’t disappoint. And I have to admit that I enjoyed the heck out of it.
The Intouchables (Intouchables in the original French title) focuses on the friendship between two men. Philippe (played by François Cluzet, who starred in Tell No One, another really good French film), a rich and cultured man who became quadriplegic, needs to hire a male nurse and is looking for candidates. A black man named Driss, who just came in for a check to be signed, grabs Philippe’s attention and he decides to hire him. Driss isn’t interested at first, but after a month trial, he decides that he likes the job and he becomes closer to Philippe to the point that they become real buddies.
Interestingly enough, for a film with such a serious issue, they use a lot of dark humor. That’s what makes it so unique as a film with a handicapped character. It’s one thing having drama: most films that tackle this issue one way or another, say The Sea Inside (another great foreign film, by the way), naturally emphasise on drama and either have a few funny moments or none at all. That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s a delicate issue and people wanna be sure that they’re dealing with it carefully. To have this kind of film using so much humor, especially dark humor, is actually what makes this film work, and what actually makes it so unique. I love the rest of the humour in this film. There’s Driss, who’s more of a pop culture guy like anybody else, who doesn’t respond to art and high culture too well. Like there’s one scene in the film where he wonders why a splosh of paint on a canvas is worth thousands of euros, and he later decides to do a version of it himself because he claims that he could throw a bunch of paint on a canvas and earn a lot of money (or something like that. I’m sure most people have said something like that before when they look at contemporary art). That was a very relatable aspect about this character. He’s not trying to solve any problems. He’s just a regular guy who in the course of the story realises that he has much more potential than he realised.
We do sympathize with these characters, but for once we’re actually allowed to have fun with them. We’re laughing along and having such a great time with them that we forget about these guys’ problems, whether physical, emotional or social (not that the film doesn’t address these problems).
The main job of this film isn’t meant to make us feel pity for a character, although his story is tragic. It’s to make us see him as a friend. We see Philippe most of the film through the eyes of Driss. Driss is a guy just trying to get by life and work on his problems. He doesn’t even care so much for the job at first, but when he really starts to bond with Philippe, he begins to like his job. Although he does have to care for Phillip, it doesn’t feel like he’s working for someone, but hanging out with a friend. One moment in the film, Philippe’s phone rings and Driss sticks it out to him completely forgetting that he can’t reach the phone. Driss doesn’t see a handicapped man, not even at the beginning of the film. He sees the man for exactly who he is on the inside. The handicap is nothing but a secondary thing, like having asthma or diabetes. Driss doesn’t even try to act too sorry or too careful with him. From the very start, he responded with an attitude of “Oh. That sucks.” And Philippe loves that.
In fact, we never even see Philippe before the accident, unlike films like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (another great French film… I’m just recommending a lot of foreign films. Go check them all out if you haven’t watched them). For this film in particular we don’t have to compare and contrast how things were before, because Philippe hasn’t changed as a human being. He wants people to truly acknowledge that. You can still be the same guy as you were before, no matter what happens to you. Even someone like Philippe can enjoy life to the fullest. That’s a very uplifting and inspiring message.
All in all, I’m not as crazy about this film as others, I still loved this movie from beginning to end. This was an excellent film. The chemistry between the two main characters is what drives the film forward, the comedy is just great, the music selection is phenomenal, and the story is handled very well and is very touching. A very unique, clever and funny film, The Intouchables is definitely one of the films I enjoyed the most this year.