The Intouchables (2011)
Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Writers: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Stars: François Cluzet, Omar Sy and Anne Le Ny
Since Le Concert (2007), I became more and more attracted to foreign language films (i.e. languages other than English or Korean) as a new unexplored world full of genius. After reading an newspaper article about The Intouchables that were immensely successful in Europe after topping the Box Office in France for ten weeks, I was excited to see another on-screen story that is boundless in its sentiments and universal in its themes.
The movie is about an extraordinary friendship between Philippe, a quadriplegic aristocrat and his caretaker Driss, a young offender living by welfare benefits. They first meet in an interview where Driss reveals his surprisingly casual and humorous character that makes Philippe smile. Without hoping for it, Driss gets hired as Philippe’s live-in carer, and an improbable understanding between the two men develops. The movie is full of extremely hilarious scenes where they amusingly respond to each other’s seemingly irreconcilable tastes: for example, when Philippe takes his free-spirited carer to his private concert and introduces a series of classical music by Vivaldi and Bach, Driss entertains his lofty employer by breaking into club dance with the beating sound of Earth, Wind & Fire. They freely exchange their contrasting views on art, music, love, and child-rearing that eventually leads to exceptional moments of joy, laughter, excitement, and delight. Philippe always keeps Driss by his side not only as a confidante but also as an outlet for his passion restrained under his immobile body and aristocratic manners. Without much time passed, they know what the other wants just by looking at each other.
Some of the audience might expect that the imperfect characters of either Driss or Philippe would change differently as a result of their relationship, but this is not what the movie is about. There is not much of a linear plotline of arising and resolving major conflicts to make the ‘drama’ of the film but only a series of memorable scenes where the two men polar opposite in physique and class naturally interact and understand each other. Based on a true story, the film shows an incredible positiveness of unlikely intimacy between wealthy and poor, high and low, black and white, healthy and disabled. The nectarous piano tunes by Ludovico Einaudi in the beginning and end of the film replace so much spoken lines to evoke a depth of emotions.