Film Review: THE INTOUCHABLES

Written and Directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
Starring Francoise Cluzet, Omar Sy and Ann Le Ny

The Intouchables (The Untouchables) is a French film that in just nine weeks after its release in France on November 2, 2011, became the second most successful French film of all time. Omar Sy beat out the charismatic star of, THE ARTIST, Jean Dujardin to win the French equivalent of an Oscar. So its pedigree is impressive.
PLOT: The movie tells the story of the relationship between a wealthy, quadriplegic Parisian, Philippe (Cluzet), and his caretaker, Driss (Sy), a Senegalese man who has had trouble with the law and is now estranged from his family. Driss has no training as a caretaker, and indeed finds some of his tasks repulsive, but quickly exhibits an affinity for his job. His natural buoyancy lifts the spirits of his employer and he quickly is indispensable to the household, even expediting a relationship between Philippe and a woman he has only exchanged letters with until now.

The film has been readily accepted by audiences elsewhere, and if you aren’t careful you can get caught up in its feel-good rhythm and miss a major hurdle for many viewers.

Driss and Philippe are likable characters (and actors) making the best of a bad situation. But there is too much of the happy- go-lucky black man serving his white master. Driss seemingly has magical powers. It has been compared to DRIVING MISS DAISY and not with favorable intention. The story is true, which further complicates your feelings about it. If a story is factual should it be told with fidelity to that truth even if a greater truth is distorted by it? Overlooked? Perhaps France, lacking the history the U.S. has in these matters, can look at the screen with impunity. Several scenes where Driss dances, in particular, reminded this viewer of minstrel shows.

I can’t honestly say I disliked THE INTOUCHABLES, but I also can’t quite recommend it because of these issues. Even if the French history with Africans is different from ours, the Africans that come to France do so out of economic hardship and not a desire to serve the white man.

Patti
Be sure to stop by http://www.pattinase.blogspot.com/ to check out Forgotten Books every Friday as well as other thoughts, comments and reviews. A collection of her stories, Monkey Justice (Snubnose Press) can be found on Amazon