The Intouchables: Touching Drama of Oddball Friendship
François CluzetOmar Sy
There’s no denying the fact that French cinema – whether you’re a fan or not – has played a big part in shaping filmmaking around the world, and as one of the most successful film industries in Europe, one is always excited to see what the ‘birth place of cinema’ has to offer.
For that reason, it’s no surprise that The Intouchables is nothing short of inspirational.
Based on a true story, The Intouchables focuses on Philippe (Cluzet); a cultured, wealthy, reserved man who has been left quadriplegic after an unfortunate paragliding incident, and is now looking to hire a new carer to tend to his everyday needs.
After sifting through a long-list of applicants and suffering through several dreary interviews, Philippe soon comes across Driss (Sy); a boisterous immigrant from Senegal hailing from the Parisian housing projects. Phillipe quickly learns that Driss is not really interested in the position at all; he is there to get his paperwork signed so he can continue to mooch of the governmental welfare benefits for the unemployed.
Intrigued by the young man’s carefree attitude and brutal honesty, Philippe hires Driss as his aide – mainly due to Driss’ lack of pity for his employer’s physical challenges – and soon after, the unlikely partnership develops into something so much more than either of them could have anticipated.
It’s very hard to find something not to like in this extremely light-hearted, yet deeply reflective, story of the most oddball of match-ups. We’ve seen this story told tens of times before, in various forms, but none have held such sincerity, honesty and genuine warmth.
The question of racial discrimination, as many have already suggested, at no point falls into clichéd territories and it doesn’t explicitly hinge on a rich, old, white guy versus poor, black guy; The Untouchables is real, funny, down-to-earth, and puts humanity before anything else. Its main focus is on the dynamics between its two leads; one is rich and the other poor; one prefers Schubert and Bach and the other would rather hit the dance floor and boogie to the 70’s funk tunes of ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’. Their differences are vast, however, it’s those disparities that bring them closer together.
No matter how good the story, cinematography and the soundtrack – an eclectic combo of Nina Simone’s classic ‘Feeling Good’, soul-funk tunes from the Kool and the Gang and a sombre piano score from the Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi – it’s the electric performances from both Cluzet and Sy that stand out the most.
Cluzet – who is a dead ringer for Dustin Hoffman – gives a spectacular performance; his eyes do most of the talking. Sy, an actor who has been winning awards left, right and centre for this breakthrough performance, shows an aptitude for comedy and his highly expressive mannerisms bring vibrancy to every scene he blesses.
Hurry up and watch The Intouchables, before it’s sullied by a big Hollywood adaptation.