Often the international releases that drop like bombs into the cinema-scape are fuelled by the Hollywood marketing machine. They often involve people with capes and costumes; sexy blue cat people or famously unreliable nautical transportation. On rare occasions, however, something as simple as the raw power, hilarity and joy of a pair of unlikely friends can compel people towards the cinema – that’s The Intouchables.
After aristocrat Phillipe (Francois Cluzet) becomes a quadriplegic after a hang-gliding accident he requires a carer. When he calls out for interviews – Driss (Omar Sy) applies for the job in the hope he’ll be instantly rejected to get unemployment benefit; but instead it’s triggers a mutually life changing friendship. And don’t be fooled by the dramatic foundations of the story – there aren’t many films that this reviewer has laughed in more this year.
Two words; Omar Sy. You won’t forget his name after you see him deliver the most magnetic and rich performances of the year. Balancing humour, with the sincerity to embody and subvert the ‘face value’ of his stereotypical character. To give you context – he beat out Jean Dujardin in the French Academy Awards for performance of the year. Cluzet’s Phillipe is understandably sick of the sycophantic behaviour that his station exposes him to. Cluzet’s refreshed by Driss (Sy) as he’s not treated like he’s a quadriplegic – he’s treated like an equal. Their chemistry is electric and their friendship is beautifully authentic.
The opening sequence is like a shiny lure that irresistibly dangles before the audience – and you’re not only powerless to the charms of the characters but you’re desperate to understand how this odd couple came together. For this feat alone, writing and directing pair Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano should be commended.
Capturing the unspoken shorthand, the adventurousness and the humour essential to enduring friendships makes the The Intouchables must see.
and a half stars
Directed by: Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
Written by: Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
Starring: Francios Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ly, Audrey Fleurot,
The Intouchables is released in Australia on the 25th of October 2012