September 6, 2013

The Intouchables

Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano, 2011

Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is a quadriplegic seeking in-house nursing care. When Driss (Omar Sy) comes in, straight from the rough streets, he surprises everyone by taking a chance on him. That choice would become life changing for him.

It's a heartwarming fish out of water French Drama. The story could be minimized to a "rich guy hires poor guy", almost in the same vein as Pretty Woman (minus the romance of course), but it's more than that. Philippe clearly wants someone sitting at his bedside who is DIFFERENT, not the generic nurse who robotically fulfills his daily duties. Of course he finds that element of unpredictability in young Driss, who isn't even serious about pursuing the job and who is more focused on stealing one of the Faberge eggs nestled on top of the hand-carved bureau. They are both looking for something that they inevitably find in each other, even though they aren't really sure what that is. Change? Culture, Humor, Surprise? It's all of that, and more. They bring out the best in each other. Philippe appreciates the fact that Driss doesn't pity him, look down on him. Philippe encourages Driss to show his talents, or at least explore them. It's quite evident that Philippe could serve as sort of a father figure to Driss, who had a turbulent upbringing. The progression is authentic, and is played out beautifully. Philippe, who almost looks like a French Dustin Hoffman, can't move a limb but he doesn't need to. The emotions are easy to read on his face. When he smiles, you see the years of loneliness wiped away. There are many touching moments in the film, sure to pull on the heartstrings. You can certainly predict how the story will play out, and that's fine. It's a wonderfully predictable journey.

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