Synopsis: After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caretaker.
Stars: François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny
Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Running Length: 112 minutes
TMMM Score: (9.5/10)
Review: Close your eyes and try to remember a time that movie going was an event. It’s not that hard to recall a time before the days of the multiplex when you had fewer options and less scuttle when you wanted to take in a flick. Nowadays there are so many options of what to see and when to see it that the experience of seeing a movie feels less special. I totally feel that on days when I go to a movie only to come home and watch another without ever really taking in both films. I thought about all of these ideas during The Intouchables which gives the audience that once in a blue moon kinda great feeling.
A phenomenon in France where it has quickly become the second highest grossing French film in history, The Intouchables also bested The Artist for several key prizes at the César Awards in February. Most notable was star Sy’s win over The Artist’s Jean Dujardin for Best Actor. With the critical darling that Dujardin is in France, that’s saying something. After viewing Sy’s performance…I can easily see why he was awarded the trophy.
At its core The Intouchables is not revolutionary in the plot department. Some have unfairly criticized the movie as being racist due to its revolving around the relationship between a quadriplegic rich white man who hires a black man from the wrong side of town to be his personal care attendant. To reduce it to a racist film is missing the journey, missing the heart that the movie wears proudly.
There are moments in The Intouchables where I forgot I was in a movie…it sucks you in so fast and so completely that not only does the time fly by but I found myself interacting with the movie unlike any other in recent memory. The movie doesn’t lay on the syrupy sweetness that the announced American remake may feel the need to include…no, it lets the actors sell the story. While it does have its emotional moments, I responded with misty eyes of joy during unexpected scenes/dialogue that ring so honest and so right. Seeing Sy’s character develop from a guarded man of few words to a zest-for-life human being is remarkable to behold. Equally moving is Cluzet seeing his life expanding from the confines of a wheelchair to the realization that he is more than a man in the chair. Sy and Cluzet play well off each other and Cluzet (a Francophile version of Dustin Hoffman) convincingly gives us a picture of the frustation in his handicap.
Directors Nakache and Toledano hit the right notes of drama and comedy without going overboard and tricking the audience into feeling a certain way. This is a classy and well made film featuring two fully developed leads with a poignant, profound, and unforgettable story to tell. Who knows (and ulimately who cares) if this one will catch on in America like it did in France…but it deserves to be seen and appreciated for the magic it creates.