Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
With a global box office approaching $400 million, Intouchables can justifiably be described as a phenomenon. And it's not hard to see why. It's the kind of crowd pleaser that has you laughing for most of its length and then while your guard is down, slugs you with an emotional ending.
The film is first and foremost a buddy movie, involving two men who could not be more different - Driss is a Senegalese ex-con from the projects, and Philippe is a wealthy paraplegic. If the convergence of their paths seems fantastical, it must be remembered that this is based on a true story.
As a sub genre of the romcom, a bromance is likewise only as good as the chemistry between its two leads, and this is where the magic lies in Intouchables. Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy are individually brilliant, Sy is relentlessly radiant, mecurial and physical, while Cluzet - immobile for the entire film - conveys so much through fleeting facial expressions. Together, they ignite the screen. So much so that when a particular narrative turn drives them apart, the film suffers.
Otherwise there is such a joyous energy to the film, and thankfully a complete aversion to any kind of cloying sentimentality or moroseness that one might expect. In fact, the character of Driss is so un-PC (the reason Philippe likes him so much) that there's no chance of pussyfooting around delicate issues involving the disabled. There's a feeling the filmmakers would rather offend than patronise their audience.
As well as being enormously popular overseas, Intouchables has been a critical success. Earlier this year it was nominated for 8 Cesars (the French Oscars), with Omar Sy winning Best Actor over the Oscar winning Jean Dujardin.
This is a film with a lot of heart and a lot of laughs. See it before TV director Paul Feig trots out the Hollywood remake.