The Intouchablesis reportedly one of the biggest cinematic exports out of France in recent times. While some viewers love the movie for the warmth and the wonderful acting, some claim that it’s a movie with a racist undertone. Having seen the movie, I tend to agree with those who love the movie.
The movie is about Philippe (François Cluzet), a quadriplegic who is looking for a live-in career and driver. Among the serious, sincere and qualified applicants, Driss (Omar Sy) sticks like a sore thumb – he applies for the job only to get a stamp in his form to tell the government that he has applied for jobs. When Philippe sees the no-nonsense, street smart Driss, he decides to give him a go – finding comfort in Driss’ sense of humour and his lack of pity. Thus comes the clash of the two worlds, the sophisticated, wealthy, and classical music lover Philippe and the poor Driss who comes with criminal records and a love of Earth, Wind & Fire. The story itself is very simple but it is interspersed with friendly jokes and banters that would be quite offensive towards the handicapped if seen outside the context of the movie. However, this is part of the charm of The Intouchables – seeing how Philippe controls his emotion and his face when he hears the offensive jokes and how he laughs along, makes us feel comfortable to laugh as well – without any malice.
Some reviewers also comment on the element of racism in the movie – I would disagree with the comments. It so happens that the movie is based on real life friendship between a wealthy quadriplegic called Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his ex-carer Abdel Sellou, a Moroccan. Besides, there are a large number of African and Arab migrants in France who are struggling in their adopted homeland. It’s just a fact of life. I see The Intouchables as a movie about friendship, not dissimilar to Mon Meilleur Ami – about how one lonely man could find friendship and comfort in another person who comes from a totally different background. Race is just one of the elements.
The Intouchables is a fantastic movie that I would heartily recommend to you, if you are still afraid that it’s just a belated version of Driving Miss Daisy. Far from it – you will probably enjoy it as much as I do and come out of the theatre hunting forBoogie Wonderland in your playlist.