Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Intouchables

Lowdown: A special relationship develops between a carer with a dodgy past and the disabled rich guy he’s looking after.
Let’s say you’re a millionaire. Not just your ordinary millionaire, you live in a chateau smack in the middle of Paris. Let’s also say that you’re disabled, able to run your head but feeling nothing below the neck. Clearly, you have enough money in your hands to acquire the best support possible. Who would you go for when hiring such a support person, a person you’d expect to constantly look after all your physical needs?
I don’t know what you will choose in such a scenario, but the guy in the 2011 French film The Intouchables – Philippe (François Cluzet) – opts for the least likely option. He’s got lines of qualified carers that bore him to death with their promises and are basically there for their own selfish reasons. So instead of churning through yet one more of those, he opts for the black guy with the criminal record who has zero qualifications, Driss (Omar Sy). Why does he take this gamble? Because unlike all the others, Driss has this basic integrity about him. He calls things the way they are, thus enabling him to have the potential to be a true companion. Which is exactly what our Philippe is after. And if you accept this story to be based on true facts (the actual real life duo is presented to us at the end of the movie), then you’d come out of this one feeling rejuvenated. You’d feel as if there is still hope for humanity. Or rather, you would enjoy a nice feel good movie with some fine comedy and drama woven into it that tells us yet again, Pride and Prejudice style, that rugs can make it into riches. Or at least look after them.
Thus Intouchables develops with the development of this exotic relationship between poor and rich, the older and the younger, the black and the white. In parallel there is Driss getting along with the rest of the staff (and the rest of the staff’s built in pomp). There is also Driss trying to sort out his own personal stuff, which turns out to be the main cause of tension in the legendary relationship that the core of this movie creates for us.
If it all looks and feels a bit too familiar, you’re probably right: The Intouchables is, essentially, a French reboot of Pretty Woman. Yes, you read it right: between exotic cars and private planes, there are 1:1 correlations here.
I am not saying the similarities with Pretty Woman are bad. Who cares about copying as long as the copying works? (And who cares if it doesn’t, either?) This one is a pretty entertaining film, thank you very much. Where I did find it to lag, potential sugar poisoning aside, is in what seems to be an artificial rift created during the third act so as to create the necessary tension between the two heroes. I failed to understand the movie’s explanation for the rift occurring in the first place and, worse, I failed to understand why our heroes paid attention to this reason. I guess that’s the problem when trying to generate a drama out of a real life story: often the drama has to be added on top.
Overall: It’s not Pretty Woman; rather Pretty Man, perhaps (Sy is quite good looking). But it’s definitely a fine feel good movie still, at 3 out of 5 crabs.

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