The Intouchables: Rated “R” (112 Minutes)
Starring: Omar Sy, François Cluzet, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot, Clotilde Mollet
Directed by: Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache
There is perhaps no worse feeling in the world than to be helpless. To be in a situation where you could not help yourself and were forced to rely on others to do things for you. Consider then the plight of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, a Frenchman who — in real-life — went parasailing and snapped his neck, paralyzing him from the neck down. Fortunately for di Borgo he was very wealthy and was able to hire a staff of health workers to assist him. The film The Intouchables is based on his life after the accident.
In the film, Philippe has lost his wife earlier and now lives alone save for his staff. As the film opens he is interviewing candidates to care for him. All of the individuals who he sees are cookie-cutter stock care-givers who all sound the same. Then in walks Driss a young, good-humored, Black Muslim who also happens to be an ex-con who isn’t so much a care-giver as looking for someone to sign paperwork indicating that he applied for a job so that he can get his unemployment benefits. Much to his surprise (and against the advice of his staff), Philippe hires Driss.
The next day Driss returns to Philippe’s mansion and learns that he actually got the gig (but is on a trial period) for the live-in job of care-giver job. Almost immediately, Driss learns the full extent of Philippe’s disability (he accidently pours scalding hot water on Philippe’s leg and Philippe doesn’t react). From there, the bond between these two men grows as Driss accompanies Philippe in every moment of his life. As they spend more time with each other, Driss’ “chaotic” nature upsets the delicate balance of what Philippe’s life used to be as Philippe discovers with some astonishment a completely different way to live with his condition.
For his own part, Driss also changes his ways, he becomes more responsible for his own life and actions, and the relationship between the two men causes each of them to grow and change in ways neither expected. In French with English subtitles, this wonderful comedic, yet compelling film presents a compelling portrait of how interconnected we all are in this life.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for over 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as here and elsewhere on the web.