66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
What a pleasure to review a film when I don't have to reach for good things to say. This heartwarming R-rated comedy is based on a book which tells the true story of two wildly different men who find a common ground and build an enduring friendship based on mutual respect. It was clear from the very beginning that the audience was invested in the story and I loved hearing gales of laughter throughout the theater from beginning to end. Audiences at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival voted this the "Most Liked" selection.
In this award-winning film from France (English captions), a wealthy aristocrat is paralyzed from a para-gliding accident and has hired many health-care worker/nurses who find caring for a wealthy quadriplegic too intimidating. A chronically unemployed immigrant from Senegal goes for an interview simply to get his application signed so he can continue his public assistance. He tends to be a little rude and doesn't show much respect or pity for the patient, who finds his lack of pity refreshing. The rest, as they say, is history.
* François Cluzet ("Tell No One") is the aristocrat. His new nurse/attendant is like a splash of cold water right smack in the face (which is the only part of his body with any sensation)!
* Omar Sy ("Micmacs") is the irrepressible nurse who starts out by stealing a Fabergé egg, so he isn't exactly a saint. His incredulity at his first opera is infectious and we all laughed along with our two heroes. And you've gotta see this guy dance!
* Anne Le Ny ("Declaration of War") is charming as the woman who runs the house, the staff, and knows everything. Her slow but steady thaw is so gratifying.
* Audrey Fleurot ("Midnight in Paris") has two of the funniest scenes with the nurse, and you don't expect it either time.
As a wrap-up, they include a couple of clips of the real fellows who were depicted in this film. That is very nice. Once again I have proven I am not an artiste. This satisfying little film has no aspirations to Art (capital "A"), but instead to Entertainment, which is where my discretionary spending money goes. Yes, I will BUY this one from Amazon.
113 of 131 people found the following review helpful
The Intouchables, a French film written and directed by the team of Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, is I am moved to say absolutely one of the best films I've seen this year. It is certainly one of the most enjoyable. It is not, strictly speaking, a comedy, but it is so rich in humor and in human comedy that I found myself constantly laughing. While fictional, The Intouchables is closely based on the real-life story of two men so starkly different in background and circumstances that it is difficult to imagine their lives even intersecting, let alone becoming intricately intertwined, and yet they did. How it all came about is the story.
The film begins with Driss (Omar Sy), a young African immigrant, driving a luxurious Maserati sports car at full tilt along the streets of Paris at night. Riding with him is Phillipe (François Cluzet), an older Frenchman with a beard who seems to be taking his companion's breakneck driving with remarkable calm. When the police inevitably start after them, Driss bets Phillipe a hundred euros he can shake them off, which Phillipe takes. When he fails to shake them off, Driss then offers to double the wager that he can turn the police into an escort, to which Phillipe laughingly says he's crazy but accepts the wager anyway. Driss then cons the police into believing that he's speeding because he has to get Phillipe - who can't get out of the car when the police order him to because he's a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down - to the emergency room of a hospital. Phillipe, in spite of the wager, proceeds to support Driss's con by pretending to be having a stroke. The police then hurriedly escort the pair to the nearest hospital, where Driss tells them he can handle things from there, and then the police leave. After having a good laugh at their getting away with it, Phillipe asks "What do we do now?", to which Driss replies confidently "Let me take care of it" and they drive off. The scene sets up the rest of the movie - most of which occurs in flashback - by showing at once how different the two men are and how in spite of their differences they have an intimately playful us-against-the-world relationship that quickly intrigues and engages.
Flashing back to when Driss and Phillipe first met, we find Phillipe, a wealthy man who really is paralyzed from the neck down, in his Paris mansion, interviewing candidates with the help of his assistant Magalie (Audrey Fleurot) for a position as live-in caregiver to help with the more basic physical tasks that Phillipe needs but can no longer do for himself. Candidate after candidate gives all the reasons why they'd be good for the position but Phillipe is clearly dissatisfied with all of them, not surprising when we learn that he's already gone through quite a few caregivers since becoming quadriplegic. Enter Driss, a brash young man who cuts in ahead of other candidates, not wanting to wait because he's only there to get a paper signed indicating he was interviewed for the job and rejected so that he can qualify for welfare support. He does everything wrong, openly revealing that he knows nothing about the job or the kind of work it involves and is only there to get his paper signed, even as he flirts outrageously with Magalie. But at the same time he talks directly to Phillipe and even makes jokes, the only candidate to do so. Intrigued, Phillipe tricks Driss into coming back, telling him to leave the paper and they will have it ready for him the next day. When Driss returns, thinking he's only there to pick up his paper, Magalie takes him on a tour of the mansion, showing him in particular the room the caregiver will be living in - an extremely luxurious room bigger than the whole apartment Driss's aunt and four cousins occupy in a seedy Paris suburb- only at the end revealing to him that he's been hired. Unable to resist the lure of all that luxury - and having nowhere else to go since his aunt kicked him out the night before - Driss decides to take the job.
It is comical to watch as Driss settles into his job, showing open astonishment as he realizes the extent of Phillipe's limitations, loudly protesting at some of the duties he's expected to handle, like putting tight stockings on Phillipe's legs to help with their circulation just for openers. But we quickly see why Phillipe chose him: Driss is completely uninhibited and utterly without pretense, never holds back what he's thinking, and he interacts with Phillipe like he does with everyone else: crude and irreverent and disrespectful of boundaries and proprieties, but always as a person. And because Driss seems to be the only person who can make Phillipe laugh. I found myself constantly laughing at the humorous moments, but mainly it was in delight at the human comedy unfolding on the screen.
There are so many delightful scenes in The Intouchables, a lot of which center around either Driss drawing Phillipe out of his comfort zone or Phillipe drawing Driss out of his. The first time Phillipe wants to go out for a ride, instead of the van designed to accommodate him and his wheelchair, Driss insists on taking the Maserati Quattroporte he sees instead. "Why would you want to ride around in that," he asks incredulously, dismissing the van, "when you have this?" The van never gets used after that. Later, once Driss has gotten Phillipe to come out of himself more, Phillipe decides to go para-sailing again (it was in fact a para-sailing accident that left him paralyzed). Driss thinks Phillipe is crazy, loudly protesting that there's no way Phillipe is going to get him to try it. And then the next thing we see is Driss para-sailing, screaming in total terror at first but soon laughing and shouting at how incredible the experience is. And one of the best scenes is at Phillipe's birthday party where the guests listen to a live chamber music group that Phillipe has hired. After most of the guests have gone and the musicians are about to leave, Phillipe impulsively tells them to stay, wanting to expose Driss to a variety of classical music, to which Driss responds, reluctantly at first, but then finally seeming to see what Phillipe gets out of it. Driss then turns around and plugs in his MP3 player, taking the opportunity to show Phillipe the kind of music he likes - Earth, Wind & Fire in particular - and soon he has the party rocking with everyone joining him on the dance floor.
In addition to the humor though, there are a lot of serious moments. Both Driss and Phillipe have their troubles. Driss's relationship with his aunt is rocky because of his irresponsibility and his troubles with the law, and he sees one of his younger cousins is being lured into the gang life. Phillipe misses his wife, who died of cancer before his accident. His adopted daughter is a spoiled brat, he has a poetic pen-pal relationship with a women he longs to meet but is afraid to reveal his physical situation to, and he suffers periodically from excruciating phantom pains that he can do nothing about but endure.
There is a lot more that I could mention about what happens in the film, but I think it best not to say anything further. It's simply too much fun to see things unfold as the relationship between Driss and Phillipe develops, both in the humorous moments as well as the more serious ones, so I will leave those pleasures for others to discover.
The cast are all very natural and their performances first-class, but François Cluzet's Phillipe and Omar Sy's Driss are truly outstanding in their roles. Cluzet - who bears a striking resemblance to Dustin Hoffman - in some ways has the more difficult task as he can only use his face to convey everything about Phillipe's character, a particular challenge given Omar Sy's infectious and animated physicality. But Cluzet does more than hold his own, showing Phillipe's evolution as his expressions grow less contained and more open as his relationship with Driss draws him out of himself. Sy's challenge is more subtle as he must convey Driss's gradual maturing as new worlds and ideas are opened to him, and as he finds himself becoming more responsible, both in his relationship with Phillipe and in his attitude towards his family. Both actors succeed marvelously, making their characters and the complex relationship the two share completely believable. I later learned from reading about The Intouchables that Omar Sy appeared in three films that Nakache and Toledano did prior to this one. Judging by his performance in The Intouchables, it's easy to see why they keep casting him.
It would be easy - if one has not actually seen The Intouchables - to dismiss it as just another "buddy" or "odd-couple" movie. That would be a big mistake, because you'd be denying yourself a thoroughly enjoyable experience. When it was released in late 2011, The Intouchables quickly became the second-biggest grossing film in French movie history. Internationally, it is the biggest grossing non-English film, beating the record formerly held by Miyazaki's Spirited Away, proof that the appeal of the film and of its truly memorable characters is indeed universal.
Highly, highly recommended for everyone. It may well be the best film you'll see all year. It will certainly be the one you'll most enjoy having seen.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2012
Philippe is handsome and rich, with a palatial apartment (complete with team of domestics) in the heart of Paris. Philippe's only "hassle," as Driss puts it: He is paralyzed from the neck down. A young black man fresh from prison, Driss is eager for a signature from Philippe attesting that he interviewed for a caregiver position but too bad, so sad was not qualified. This signature is all Driss needs to qualify for France's cushy unemployment benefits. Unfortunately for Driss, Philippe decides to hire him instead.
Why Philippe would place his life in the hands of the brash, rather unsympathetic Driss is a mystery at first. Yet as the movie unfolds, you experience firsthand the tension between how Philippe sees himself (useless, embarrassing, ashamed), how past caregivers have treated him (as a fragile doll they are terrified of breaking), and how Driss sees him: Driss is the only one to accept Philippe as a real human being with a future, with dreams and possibilities of his own.
A beautiful film, based on a true story. Wish they made more like these in America! The opera scene was absolutely hilarious.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
"The Intouchables" (2011 movie from France; 112 min.) brings the real life story (more on that later) of Philippe, a wealthy tetraplegic, and Driss, a young and poor man from the ghettos, who is hired as his live-in carer. Driss seems to not care about much but himself, although he is also dealing with family issues in parts of the movie. But Driss and Philippe strike a bond, and become closer as the movie develops. I don't want to give more away from the plot as you'll just have to see how it all plays out, but I will say there are some surprises.
That said, this is a great movie, and as such the "feel good" movie of the year so far. It was a packed house when I saw it this weekend at my local indie theatre here in Cincinnati, and the crowd just loved it, laughing at many occasions. But the movie really didn't hit home for me until the credits rolled and, low and behold, it brought some actual footage from the real Philippe and Driss in one of the scenes recreated in the movie. (As an aside, the real Philippe and Driss are nowhere near as nice looking as in the movie, but that's of course why movies are movies). Moreover, we are then also told what happened to these guys in real life since then.
François Cluzet (as Philippe) and Omar Sy (as Driss) provide superb performances, and in fact Sy won the French equivalent of the Oscar for Best Actor, and rightfully so. In all, this is a great movie. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!