In the year when The Artist dominated the Oscars and achieved international success and recognition, it was a very different kind of a film that dominated the French box office. This film is ‘Intouchables’ and the one of good reasons of its success is that it deals with a problem that seems to be universally actual but especially painful nowadays in Europe and France specifically – the relation between the ‘native’ Europeans and the immigrants who migrate to the Old Continent in search of its freedom and chances of finding here prosperity and escaping the hardships and in many cases the prosecution at home. This encounter is an encounter of cultures and styles of life, which puts to prove everybody’s capability to accept the differences and to live aside or even create stronger relationships despite the differences.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1675434/

 

The two principal characters of the film have each a strong handicap but also other strong points. Philippe (the excellent Francois Cluzet) is quadriplegic condemned to life in a wheelchair following an accident, but he has a wide culture and expecially a lot of money which allow him to afford not only treatments, people to serve him at ease, living in a palace in the center of Paris, and flying on private jets to any place in the world at any time. Driss (Omar Sy) posses nothing and lives a life of a semi-criminal and semi-homeless, but he is young, strong, and has a natural goodness and common sense of the street. The two meet and complement each other, help each other with what the other is missing or has lost, but this is possible because the two share also the will to live, the taste of the extreme, and especially humor. The two directors of ‘Intouchables’ Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano made of this film a feel-good story that tries to pass in a comic and easy way a strong message that the differences can be bridged when and where we can look at the people near us, find their strong and good parts and offer ours to them to overcome the lower moments in life.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsPHXVnt27g

(video source trailers)

 

The film is inspired by true people and by a true story, and here is where I feel a little bit cheated. I feel cheated because if this fact was not so visibly emphasized I would have criticized the film for being to idealistic, its characters too good to each other, differences and situations solved too easily, in other words I would have said that this looks too much like an idealized Hollywood story. Should I risk to do it now? Say that for example if Philippe was not so extremely rich to buy his entourage and way out of any situation by taking another fine meal or private jet flight this maybe would not be the same story. Or say that the final story with the anonymous girlfriend brought up at the exact place by the sea (Normandie?) where the two end to run seems too much like a movie-style ‘deux-ex-machina’ exercise? Or ask practical questions like who help Philippe take food or drinks to his mouth at that encounter? I would be ridiculous, as this is inspired from real life and characters, and all or some may be true. So I will just take the risk of saying that the approach to a very serious problem seems to be a little too idealized, but that overall that is a good feeling movie worth being seen, as there is nothing wrong to feel good even at films dealing with serious subjects.