So we have come to the penultimate review of No-English Moviember, unless someone suggests another film to review which will be good in that people want me to do more, but bad as it will make the phrase “penultimate review” a complete fabrication.
Before we move on to that most holy of Chronic Chronicler traditions; I must give a quick shout out to Writer Loves Movies for suggesting this film. Writer Loves Movies is a fantastic site that gives the most incisive look on the latest movies. So, if you like, before or after reading this review, give this blog a look-in! OK then, on to the obligatory overview of the French comedy-drama Intouchables (English: Untouchable)!
After a rather cool chase scene in a Maserati, the story is told in flashback for the majority of the film. As the flashback begins, we see French-Senegalese Driss (Omar Sy) queuing up for a job interview so that he can get his third signature of the week so he can receive benefits.
Meanwhile paraplegic Philippe (François Cluzet) and his assistant Magalie (Audrey Fleurot) are going through a seeming never-ending amount of high-qualified but lacklustre candidates to be Philippe’s carer. Driss, fed up with waiting, barges in and asks for a signature, making jokes with Philippe and hitting on Magalie in the process. Philippe tells Driss to come tomorrow at nine so he can pick his benefits form up.
The next day Driss finds he has been issued a challenge, care for Philippe while living in his luxurious house for a month, or go and take his benefits. What follows is what happens when people from completely different walks of life come together to make each other happy in themselves.
Looking back over my past I don’t know how many reviews because I’m too lazy to check so let’s just call it seven I have been pretty much overtly nice about everything I have written. I’ve hardly said anything bad about anything, at most I’ve had a small niggle with things and they are usually small enough to allow the whole product a good review.
Somehow I thought maybe it’s now, this time I’ll be able to have a constructed moan against something which would probably and somewhat inevitably turn into a rant against this film. Why do you think I would do this? Because Intouchables is a “feel good” movie which can usually be summed up in one word. Trite.
When someone walks up to you and suggests a movie to you, let’s say August Rush. You may ask what sort of film it is, and quite rightly so. If that person then decides to use the terms “feel good”, “life affirming” and worst of all, “heart-warming”, the film, and anything attached to them like people who seconds before may or may not have been your friend, in all honesty your rage makes you forget, would be launched out of your rocket and leaves your neighbour with a tough stain to get off his patio.
I’m assuming you may be asking yourself “Isn’t this meant to be a review of Intouchables?” And yes the voice in your head reading this article for you, you’d be right to ask so. Heart-warming films are usually bereft of brilliance and falling in to categories ranging from “meh” to “kill it with fire”. Intouchables on the other hand manages to escape this fate.
What helps Intouchables is the great acting talent they have. While I must give the supporting actresses Audrey Fleurot and Anne Le Ny who plays Yvonne due credit, both giving strong performances despite their limited screen time, it is to Omar Sy and François Cluzet as the leading men that must duly get the vast majority of the plaudits.
Sy’s performance as the Earth, Wind and Fire loving benefit claimant turned carer is done fantastically. He feels like such a real person, not only because of his deeper backstory, but also due to his terrible singing, forthright nature and awful attempts to woo Magalie. He feels like someone you could realistically walk down the street and meet and, despite his initial wish just to get benefits (a touchy subject at the best of times), he becomes a character you latch onto very quickly.
Cluzet meanwhile must receive equal, yet different, plaudits for his work as the paraplegic Philippe. Being unable to move due to an accident in his daredevil days of hand gliding, Philippe could easily become a tragic figure whom audiences could pity. But that, thankfully, does not happen. For, as Philippe says, he hired him because he wants: no pity.
In an age where being disabled does not mean you have become any less of a person, this film has feel good vibe about it as, while not being able to do everything he previously could, that does not mean Philippe still cannot enjoy life like he did before his accident. With the help of Driss, Philippe achieves that, with their antics making for brilliant comedy, as well as sombre drama when needed.
One thing that I have discovered when looking up actors names and such on Wikipedia (hail the Wiki), is that there was a bit of critical backlash against Intouchables in the UK. The Independent’s Anthony Quinn described Intouchables as:
“a third-rate buddy movie that hardly understands its own condescension”
Going further Quinn decried the film’s lack of originality and message by stating that:
“Why has the world flipped for this movie? Maybe it’s the fantasy it spins on racial/social/cultural mores, much as Driving Miss Daisy did 20-odd years ago – uptight rich white employer learns to love through black employee’s life-force. That was set in the segregationist America of the 1940s. What’s this film’s excuse?”
With all due respect to Mr Quinn, he completely missed the point. Yes, Intouchables has many parallels with Driving Miss Daisy but in no way would it be advisable to call Intouchables a third-rate knock off. While Driving Miss Daisy was firmly a film with a message that sometimes delved into comedy, Intouchables inverts this by being a humorous film that has an underlying message.
In any case, what is wrong with a more updated version of Driving Miss Daisy? By giving us a film that looks at two people from completely different sides of the social strata in modern times, Intouchables may have more relevance than Driving Miss Daisy due to more readily relateable characters due to the time period.
In the end Intouchable is one of those films that does not care what the critics say. They can splutter and decry all they want, but Intouchables tries to get across one thing: live and enjoy life, and it does that with gusto.
Thanks for reading and thanks again to Writer Loves Movies for suggesting this! If you liked what you read then please follow me here on WordPress or even on Facebook and Twitter as well. Also, if you fancy writing for The Chronic Chronicler, then send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for reading! Next, and sadly finally, for No-English Moviember is the German film Good Bye, Lenin!.