Black man from the projects. Handicapped, white millionaire. The unlikeliest of compadres, from total opposite sides of the pole, but intertwined best friends. Not quite Rob and Big, but the recipe remains the same.
Directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano based The Intouchables off of a true story after discovering it in 2004 through a documentary and book, You Changed My Life, by Abdel Sellou. Though bits of the story were adapted for a more movie-friendly experience, the charm and wit of the leading stars (Cluzet and Sy) bring Phillipe Di Borgo’s and Abdel Sellou’s relationship back to life.
The film is essentially a feel-good movie with lots of humor and fun times. Driss (played by Omar Sy) is the perfect charismatic compliment to Philippe (Francois Cluzet). He’s flirtatious, saucy, and strong, while Philippe’s intellectual, calm, and reserved. Both learn to cope with the other’s traits and tendencies, ultimately finding a sweet spot in the middle where raucously gratifying adventures begin.
Driss starts off as an adamant caretaker, refusing to shame his manhood by performing duties like dressing Philippe and even wiping his glutes. However, he soon grows to appreciate Philippe, admiring the man’s will for life, and the lifestyle he has been awarded. Felippe, on the other hand, admires Driss’s caustic sense of humor along the lines of: “Where can you find an invalid? Where you left him.”
More or less an exposition of the difference in the two’s lifestyles, the film shows how financial measures fail to indicate one’s happiness in life. Felippe’s life is lacking without Driss, as he provides the boldness that changes Felippe from an invalid shell of a man to a daring individual unhindered by life’s obstacles.
Driss brings life to the entire household, flirting daily with the secretary and crooning along to “Earth, Wind and Fire.” Though familial troubles outside of his work often trouble him, his attitude toward Philippe remains trustworthy and optimistic.
Ultimately, Driss helps Felippe re-envision the life he lived prior to his becoming a quadriplegic. They get massages from hookers, schedule dates for Felippe, and go para-gliding with the beautiful French backdrop beneath them.
The Intouchables tells a tale of two men who discover a friendship like no other, which unites them and humanizes their connection with the rest of the world. I highly recommend everyone to see this movie, as it is simply beautiful and touching. Though foreign movies may have a bad rep, disregard that for once and give The Intouchables a chance. You won’t regret it.
I give it 4 Patches out of 5.
The film is showing at the Clairidge Cinema on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. For showtimes go here.