Philippe (François Cluzet) is a paralyzed millionaire in search of a new caretaker. Enter Driss (Omar Sy) a working class man trying to work the system for government benefits. When his plan for a quick signature accidentally impresses Phileppe, Driss is brought on board as the new caretaker. The clash of their backgrounds presents an opportunity for each other to learn.
Directors and writers Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano weave a tale based on a real life relationship in a manner that is never condescending, or wrought with whimsy fanfare. The testing nature of Driss and the indulgence shown by Philippe make for a fantastic duo. With well natured jabs that never let up, you’d almost buy into The Intouchables as a comedy.
The real star of the show is Omar Sy in the breakout role of Driss. His comedic timing and vigor bleed through any subtitles. Sy is remarkably versatile with a range of emotions as well as dance. You believe him as a tough hood capable of handling a snooty driver, and at the same time the progression between the rest of the staff makes it entirely believable that they’d take to him in the long run.
In my experience, American audiences are intolerable subtitles. We have the technology for quality dubbing. Check out The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on DVD for proof—it’s no archiate martial arts flick. Maybe presenting The Intouchables with subtitles is part of the grand scheme of The Weinstein Company to justify a Hollywood remake, of which they do hold the rights. Where there’s a buck to be made, you can count on our domestic movie industry to find it.
The Intouchables may get some scorn for the racial conditions of the casting. Driss doesn’t share the ethnicity of his true story counterpart. The conclusion of the film goes to efforts to highlight this, even including an update where the newly introduced name jars the audience. Sy’s performance is of a caliber where the question of placing blame would never cross the mind of the average attendee nor should it be a focal point for criticism. Whoever chose Sy evidently found the right man for the part.
The Intouchables is the best entry in the subgenre of purely patient/caretaker narratives. With both offering the right amount of attitude, and the right lack of stereotypical behavior, The Intouchables hits all the right notes. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll appreciate what life has to offer. ***½