In this month’s column over at A Traveler’s Library, I talked up The Intouchables, a French film directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano about an unlikely friendship between stuffy, wheelchair-bound millionaire Philippe (François Cluzet, Tell No One) and his newly-hired, street-wise Senegalese caretaker Driss (Omar Sy), who applied for the job with the hopes of being rejected so he could stay on welfare.
These two men couldn’t be more different, and their friendship teaches them to see the world through each other’s eyes. Philippe teaches Driss about opera and fine art, while Driss helps Philippe find the joy in life again.
I generally don’t go for the sentimental tear-jerker-type films, but am so glad I saw this one, inspired by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s memoir A Second Wind. It’s one of my favorite films of the year, and here are four reasons why:
1. The Friendship. So often we feel trapped by whatever social barriers are seemingly placed upon us. Not enough money, no chance make our mark in the world, and no reason to do it. The Intouchables shows us that doesn’t have to be the case.
2. Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet. You’ll wonder whether Cluzet actually IS a paraplegic, because he’s just that good. Likewise with Sy, whose character begins the film with a bad attitude and evolves into someone with a true purpose in life.
3. The Unexpected Scenes. One of the reasons Philippe loves having Driss as a caretaker is because he doesn’t pity him or pander to him. And that goes for Philippe’s view of Driss, as well. In one scene, the two manage to get out of a speeding ticket by pretending that Philippe is having a stroke. Trust me. It’s funny.
4. The Earth, Wind & Fire Dance Scene. At one point, Philippe has a bunch of his tightly-wound friends over for a stuffy gathering. Until Driss livens the place up by dancing to Earth, Wind & Fire’s snappy tune “Boogie Wonderland.” Here’s the French version, although the film is showing in the U.S. with English subtitles. See if it doesn’t make you smile.
Buy [amazon_link id=”B0087IT8LO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Intouchables on Amazon[/amazon_link].