The Intouchables is an original, uplifting comedy-drama based on the true story of an unlikely friendship between disabled millionaire aristocrat Philippe, and Driss, a poor, ex-con immigrant. Two men from different realms marginalised by society for different reasons find a connection with each other which changes both their lives. Touching, captivating, hilarious, fast moving, entertaining, and completely unexpected, this movie sweeps out onto the screen and reels in the viewer tightly and effortlessly.
It would be almost criminal to write about this film without mentioning that the wealthy quadriplegic Philippe, was played to absolute perfection by Francois Cluzet. After watching The Intouchables, it is easy to see why it was the toast of Europe upon its release, being nominated in almost every main category at France’s equivalent of the Oscars including Best Film and Best Actor. I’d never heard of Omar Sy before this film, but now it is impossible to forget his magical and heart-warming performance as the unemployed deadbeat Driss.
Driss first refuses the call to adventure (the job offer) as he is mortified at the thought of work and fearful of entering a different world he knows nothing about. This refusal is often a fear of anything different and is reflective of most people experience at stages throughout their lives. Many of us wonder ‘what if I’d taken that path, that chance, that job, that relationship, that opportunity, how would my life be different?’
The Intouchables, being based on truth, gives us a peek into the possibilities of what could be if you just take a chance and connect. It inspires confidence and hope for a better life due to stronger human connections, however impossible they may seem at the time. Ultimately, this is a movie about humanity that highlights the development of a unique, special and rewarding friendship characterized by humor.
Although the film is in French with English subtitles, I wasn’t even aware of it and actually forgot it was in French when asked about it. I believe this is a testament to how engaging, visual and well communicated this story was. Adapted from the true story of Abdel Sellou (Driss) and Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, this fascinating story lays a strong foundation for the making of the film.
The Intouchables is one of those rare films where everything seemed to work as a well oiled machine from the writing to the editing, casting choices and direction to create a movie that is absolutely dynamic from beginning to end.
The Intouchables (2011): Written and Directed by duo Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledana. Starring Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Nye
For further reading on the true story on which this film is based, check out ‘You Changed My Life‘, a memoir by Abdel Sellou (Driss), and A Second Wind: The True Story that Inspired the Motion Picture The Intouchables by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo (Philippe).