Philippe is an extremely wealthy person who has a serious attitude towards life since he suffered an accident that left him a quadriplegic. This means that he needs a caregiver 24 hours a day at his service, but people usually don’t stay around long with him. And there is Driss, an immigrant guy fresh out of prison who survives at his aunt’s expense and doesn’t have the slightest interest in working. But fate is usually capricious and will unite these two people in the most unusual relationship. A relationship that will be “untouchable.”
Being a disabled millionaire, Phillipe looks for a helper who meets his needs and takes care of him since his body is almost completely paralyzed. He decided to do some interviews to hire a new assistant. That’s how he meets Driss, who applies to the job without any intention or hope of being hired. He is only interested in completing three interviews to get the government subsidy.
Being a poor immigrant who just got out of a six-month jail sentence, Driss receives Phillipe’s attention with his aggressiveness in showing no empathy or compassion for his disability. To Driss’s surprise, Philippe hires him and puts on a challenge to show Driss is capable of working for a month and that he is not as selfish as he thinks.
That is how a great bond of friendship starts to emerge from these two characters that are contrasted as light and dark. What at first seemed to be an impossible relationship becomes essential: One hit by the circumstances of a position of disability and the other a victim of social inequality; however, both share the same discrimination from a world that surrounds and marginalizes them. Philippe helps Driss by turning him into an honest, responsible, and dedicated person in his work. At the same time, Driss infects Philippe with his optimism and joy, helping him overcome his fears originating from his condition.
Fortunately, Nakache and Toledano do not want ‘The Intouchables’ to merely be a “feel good” movie. It is not one of the films whose success is based on the audience’s well-being rather than having artistic merits. Even though it has some “cheesy” moments, the movie overcomes it well with its dark-humor. The lack of compassion between the two main characters makes the movie special in its genre.
The filmmakers know how to handle fundamental vital concepts brilliantly, making the film very close and familiar. Social cinema, closer to a purely “Hollywood” product than of French origin, dropping morals like: “we all have someone to take care of” and “no matter how different and distant we are, we always have something to learn from others.”
Characters and actors
From the beginning, the chemistry between the two main actors is the basis of the movie’s beauty. The opening scene captures and makes evident the harmony between the performers and the remarkable work in the direction of actors, focusing on the central duo. The movie doesn’t lose any rhythm, thanks to these actors’ superb interpretive work: Omar Sy as Driss and François Cluzet (who bears a striking resemblance to Dustin Hoffman) as Philippe. They are such charming characters, so rich in nuances that it is a pleasure to see them together on stage.
The movie’s story is fantastic, but “The Intouchables” is a character movie, meaning that the actors are the primary driver. Their movements and well-written dialogues are absolutely genuine. The contrast and the chemistry between them create the dark-comedy that the movie feeds on.
Music and cinematography
Besides everything, the movie is seasoned with a gorgeous soundtrack. We were astonished because we would never imagine that this section would be this remarkable. This was achieved thanks to the composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi, who wrote some stunning piano pieces. Especially “Fly” and “Una Mattina” exquisitely accompany the dramatic atmosphere. The movie would be totally incomplete without them. They are so remarkable that, in various countries, a special edition was made on DVD that included a CD with the film’s soundtrack.
As this is a character movie, there is not much to say about its cinematography. One thing to notice is the constant usage of contrast elements, symbolizing the characters’ opposite perspectives. The use of light and dark, colors and gray tones, fast and slow-paced movements… Philippe’s house is very colorful with extravagant decorations and art pieces, while Driss’s neighborhood is gray, chaotic, and full of graffitis. As the movie’s heart, the contrast is symbolized in every little detail.
In short, “The Intouchables” is a movie that therapeutically uses humor, laughs, and de-dramatizes the multiple fears that grip modern society. It places the human at the center of everything, and above all, it commits to a clear optimistic message; living with dignity. With tremendous acting and a fantastic soundtrack, the final sensation is enormously satisfying. We highly recommend the movie to all kinds of audiences.