Whenever I watch a movie, I go into it hoping for that heartwarming, giggle-inducing, feel-good feeling. I am not ashamed of my shallow film expectations. Critical acclaim and Oscar nominations mean nothing to me, if I don’t leave the theater with a smile. And to be honest, it has been a long time since a movie has done that for me; that is, until I watched The Intouchables.
Now I thought I discovered a hidden gem when I found this movie in my Netflix queue, but apparently I have been living under a rock, since this film was nominated for a Golden Globe and won and was nominated for a plethora of other film awards. It is also being hailed as one of the most successful French films of all time (yes, Paused! is giving a French film a good review!). So apparently a smile and critical acclaim are not mutually exclusive!
The Intouchables is a film based on a true story about a wealthy, quadriplegic aristocrat (Philippe, played by Francois Cluzet) and the ex-con he hires as his caretaker (Driss, played by Omar Sy). The film chronicles the unlikely friendship between these two men as Driss learns how to take care of Philippe’s many needs while injecting a much-needed dose of humor and excitement into the aristocrat’s sterile life.
This clash of cultures leads to a ton of great comedic scenes and some very touching and tender moments. But where this film shines is that it navigates this sensitive subject matter without being overly sappy. The story recognizes but doesn’t get caught up in Driss’ or Philippe’s unfortunate circumstances, but it focuses on the awesome friendship that fills a void in both of their lives.
Minor Spoiler Alert
And what I love most about this movie is that it doesn’t end in tragedy! Yes, Spoiler Alert, the man in the wheelchair doesn’t die at the end! Is it possible to have a meaningful movie about someone with a disability or an illness without Franc passing me a tissue as I dissolve into tears? The Intouchables is proof that this is possible.
My one criticism is that the “Where are they now?” statements at the then end of the film were less than satisfying. I want to know more about these real men than how many children they had! But I must admit, that is a pretty ridiculous criticism.
The Intouchables deserves all the praise it has received. The cast is stellar, the story is honest and moving, but most of all, this film is hilarious. Guaranteed to walk away smiling. I give it a 9.5!