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March 5, 2013

On DVD/Blu-ray – Review: The Intouchables (2011)


The Intouchables (2011)

Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, The Intouchables tells the story of quadriplegic aristocrat Philippe (François Cluzet) and his new caregiver Driss (Omar Sy). Driss is from the projects and lives a lackluster life but isn’t a bad person. Philippe chooses him over many other qualified caregivers simply because he isn’t as boring or predictable as all of the other candidates.

What transpires is an entirely predictable relationship between the two men: they are of two worlds but grow on one another from the get-go. Their taste in music, mannerisms, and views on life are worlds apart but they’re never off-putting to one another. They strike an early rapport and remain friends ’til the end. And that, perhaps, is the one aspect where this film is different from other similar films that had come before.

Philippe and Driss don’t really evolve as people and their characters don’t develop much. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because that way they never break character or perform actions uncharacteristically; in fact, I really like that about the film. We know where it’s going from the beginning and nothing bad ever happens to our protagonists. That being said, it’s never boring. It’s a light film that plays it safe throughout and boasts really good performances by the main leads, and also by the actors playing Philippe’s other employees.

François Cluzet, stuck in a several chairs throughout the film only has his face to work with and still delivers a wonderful performance. I previously saw him in the terrific thriller Tell No One (2006) (Helen’s review), one of the best film noirs of this millennium. As for Omar Sy, I don’t really remember from any other projects, but he does play in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s delightful Micmacs (2009) and that’s also a terrifically entertaining film.

I am in something of a quandary regarding this film: it’s entirely predictable, quiet, entertaining, cliché-ridden, and safe. It’s just a really nice film and that’s all there is to it. It’s nice to be able to sit down and watch a film that doesn’t try to impress but manages to entertain wholly. It’s close to two hours in length but one never feels like watching this film is a chore. It’s a curious film, a light film, a film that entirely plays it safe, and a film that I recommend.

Lastly, I can see why The Intouchables was kicked out of the competition for an Oscar and replaced by Michael Haneke’s brilliant and painful Amour. Haneke’s entire film is risky, steeped in realism, tough to endure, and wonderful as well. It showcases the type of film and filmmaking that wins the grand awards (like the Palm d’Or). However, I recommend you rent The Intouchables, sit back, and enjoy the show because that’s all that the film asks us to do.

The Intouchables is on DVD and Blu-ray, but you only get the movie- there’s zero extras.


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