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  • Writer's pictureBen Kemper

The Intouchables

While normally I have a deeply ingrained and abiding suspicion of any film remotely connected to the word "French", there are times when critical mercy and interest in universal themes forces me to think my relatively benign Prejudice may be as flawed as any other.

At first glance the Intouchables is your run of the mill based-on-a-true-story, boisterous-street-urchin (Driss, Sy) lands job-as-caretaker for a morose-and-ridiculously-wealthy-quadriplegic (Philippe, Cluzet) buddy film. But the head nodding of Old Man teaches Young Man (he's not really a street urchin, more of a disenfranchised nonconformist) about the finer things in life and gives him the time and tools to make something great of himself, ad the Young Man Teaches the Old Man how to make his life fine and the time and the tools to relish life in his emotionally empty and physically limited state, I must admit that the cinematography is well done, the script very well done, and the acting exceptionally well done.

Sy in particular gives a stirling performance as Driss, his exuberance brings grins of no good reason to the veiwer, his gruffness makes us hunch our shoulders in shame, and his absent mindedness is most convincing. He also has the most elastic face I've seen on anyone since Rowan Atkins, and his double takes would make the film even if he wasn't handed such a caring soul and sparkling wit (Nakeache and Toledano have out done themselves with Driss, especially with the egregious flirting and the mustache scene). Cluzet does well, especially in displacing pity for Philippe from his broken body onto his broken heart. But he is easily pushed by Sy (when unstoppable force meets immovable object, the object generally comes out lesser), and does not always provide the thread of thought needed.

Warm applications to the three supporting actresses (and caretakers of Philippes body, mind, and presence, leaving Dress to take charge of the soul,if you want to get philosophical) Marcell, (Mollet, hilarious), Magalie (Fluerot, devious and exciting) and Yvonne (Le Ny, also devious but heart warming).

I laughed, I bit my lip, I nodded sadly and despite the weird shots and smoky "french flavor" I found the film enjoyable. Enlightening even. But don't expect me to go diving after Eyes Without a Face, unless they throw in lots of dali references.

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