When a wealthy French aristocrat and sometimes daredevil suffers a debilitating accident that leaves him a quadriplegic, on whim he hires a young man from the projects to be his caretaker even those all around him question the decision.
Here’s what I wrote about this title in my original theatrical review:
“Driss (Omar Sy) was interested in the job. Not only wasn’t he qualified to be the caretaker for quadriplegic millionaire Philippe (François Cluzet), the cynical ex-con was hoping to get passed over for the position so he could start receiving government assistance meaning he wouldn’t have to work at all. Not because he’s lazy, although he’d never argue all that harshly against those who said otherwise, but more because he’s got so much else on his mind, the world at home in his tiny tenement apartment stuffed full with brothers and sisters not exactly all it could be.
Phillipe, however, sees something in Driss that he needs. He’s not looking for a caretaker that treats him as some sort of porcelain doll, he wants someone who doesn’t look at his condition and immediately slink back into the corner. He wants someone to tell him how it is, give him the harsh truth, tell some off-color jokes at his expense that are hardly politically correct. Most of all, though, he wants someone around that sees him as an equal, if not physically, than at least intellectually and emotionally, knowing that a little tough-live might be the difference between giving up on life or going through the remaining years with energetic enthusiasm.
Based on a true story, The Intouchables is a wonderful melodrama that manages to walk a fine line between syrupy sentimentality and honest emotionalism that held me spellbound start to finish. Surprisingly funny, never beating me over the head with the importance of its themes are the majesty of its human scope, the movie ended up being a profound saga of friendship I utterly adored. Perilously close to perfection, this might just be one of the finest motion pictures I’m likely to see in all of 2012.
Written and directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano (Those Happy Days), the movie is inspired mélange of drama, heartbreak, perseverance and triumph that soars to almost unheard of heights. The pair, using Philippe and Driss’ relationship as inspiration, refuse to let the project fall into treacle. They do preach. They do not beat the viewer over the head with bogus musical cues or overly showy visual references. If anything, a case could be made that they potentially stand too far off into the distance, barely commenting on any of the actions coming to pass, but for my part this is one debate I don’t choose to partake in.
If I was to have any complaints, and I’m not entirely sure I have any of merit, most of them would revolve around the various tangential subplots taking away from the central narrative. The one concerning Philippe’s headstrong yet insecure teenage daughter probably comes off the worst, mainly because it is just too blandly familiar, but Driss’ dramas back at home are hardly more compelling, mostly because they’re too indistinct and evanescent to hit home in a way that might matter.
Yet none of this bothers me near as much as it probably should. The way Philippe and Driss relate to one another, how they interact, the bond they end up forming, all of that mattered in a way that was immediate and sincere. I never once questioned where this film was coming from, never doubted that it was staying true to its characters and their respective stories. It built naturally, compulsively heading to a place of profound ebullience that had me smiling in outright glee.
The acting is stellar across the board, the always wonderful Cluzet proving once again just how magnetic a presence he can be even when confined to a wheelchair and only allowed the movement of his face and neck. I never pitied Philippe, never allowed myself to feel sorry for him, Cluzet giving him an inner bravado that oozed its way off of the screen and into the deepest corners of my heart.
But as good as he is, it must be said that relative newcomer Sy is every bit his equal, maybe even surpassing the esteemed actor as far as the continually mesmerizing nature of his performance is concerned. Winner of the César Award for Best Actor (the French equivalent of an Oscar), this is a superlative piece of work that walks consistently walks an exceedingly fine line. So easily could Sy have dropped into caricature, into over the top lunacy, making Driss someone to laugh at instead of with. But the actor never allows this to happen, refuses to cut his character any slack or make him into something he is not. He is a man learning to be at peace with himself, finding in his new charge a strength of spirit and benevolent purpose he may never have discovered had they not met.
But that’s the whole movie in in a nutshell, The Intouchables constantly walking fine lines. Nakache and Toledano comprehend the riskiness of the material, know how easily it would be to fall into an unbearable maudlin claptrap of sap and saccharine they never could recover from. Thankfully, the movie never goes there, doesn’t descends into those cinematic pits of doom. It is instead a moving marvel of hope and inspiration that had me wanting to cheer, the finished product a mesmerizing wonder only the most cynical amongst us could ever despise.”
The Intouchables plays beautifully the second time around, and I’m still a bit shocked that it didn’t score a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award nomination. Still, be that as it may the movie is highly worthwhile and I couldn’t recommend the watching of it more. Superb.
The Intouchables is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.85:1/1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and features optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Deleted Scenes (5:35)
Five of them, all rather cute and enjoyable, but none of them so essential they should have been a part of the finished film. This release also includes an UltraViolet version of the film while trailers for a variety of upcoming releases (including Silver Linings Playbook) are also included.
The Intouchables is a remarkably entertaining motion picture anchored by two superior performances by Cluzet and Sy ranking as a couple of 2012’s absolute best. Sony’s Blu-ray of this Weinstein Company relaease is extraordinary, audio and visual transfers close to reference quality making this disc close to essential for fans of the film.