The Intouchables Jul 31, 2012 9:19:41 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 31, 2012 9:19:41 GMT -5
Omar Sy and FranÃ§ois Cluzet in The Intouchables.
Now here is a film that perfect defines the word "wholesomeness." The Intouchables is a moving parable about a wise but poor black man who becomes the caregiver and mentor for a wealthy tetraplegic in a series of unlikely but not unbelievable events in modern-day France. The film begins by showing the man's assistant, interviewing candidates for the job of being the man's hands and legs, but as the man sits close behind her, he becomes increasingly unsatisfied with the candidates due to their lack of motivation or their mundane nature.
The man, named Philippe, played by FranÃ§ois Cluzet, is brought to a smile when he is acquainted with Driss (Omar Sy), a man who has been through relentless struggles with money and social-status, but still manages to push through it with a smile. Driss is only looking for a signature on his unemployment checks so he can continue receiving welfare benefits and has absolutely no ambition to get this job.
The next day, he is called up to begin the trial period as the role of Philippe's caretaker, and while Driss is clearly unqualified for a job of this nature, Philippe casually accepts him because he finds the man to be charming and good-natured. While both men come from the Parisian-area, Philippe lives in a heavenly mansion, while Driss inhabits the lowest end of the slums. Despite this setback, the men have an incredibly easy-going friendship, with deep, touching talks of inspiration and motivation throughout the picture. Subplots involve Driss demanding that Philippe maintain better control of his only daughter, Elisa, and trying to get the man back on his dating game with a digital lover.
I'm aware the story sounds like cliche-after-cliche, but the film perfectly abides by my law of films with a seemingly cliche premise. The Intouchables knows its story functions with moments of incredulity and utter sappiness, but it doesn't try to overcompensate and milk those moments for more than they're worth. It also does more than give us contrivance, but inflates its moments of sentiment with wit, charm, attitude, style, and poignancy, making this for a very emotional experience on every level. Sometimes, we are greeted with a film we know is relatively simple, cliche, and unassuming, yet we are mesmerized unconditionally up until the final frame.
The film became a colossal hit in France, selling over nineteen million tickets and is currently the second highest grossing film of all time, in France. Due to its very minimal promotion in the US, I could see some people going into this film expecting a somber, relatively monotone film depicting the life of a tetraplegic tragically and with a numbing aftertaste. The Intouchables has a talent much like the Alexander Payne film, The Descendants, which is depicting a relaxing environment, which includes making a character out of the setting, handling tragedy with a sustainable amount of poignancy, and providing touches of extremely funny comedy throughout its entire runtime.
As of now, French cinema is one of the strongest cinemas in the world, as it has been for decades now. Rather than try to recreate the New Wave it experienced many years ago, try out a gimmicky, self-indulgent style, or even worse, replicate Hollywood formulas, it is at a stage now where it can take even the most basic storyline and rework it into a magnificent portrayal with humanity and lavishness subtly and majestically. The Intouchables is a beauty that will definitely be taken for granted.
Starring: FranÃ§ois Cluzet and Omar Sy. Directed by: Olivier Nakache and Ãric Toledano.