Even though we missed it in when it was in theaters, we finally caught up with The Intouchables and are so glad we did. Simply and directly, the film is one of the most delightful, poignant, brilliant, exhilarating, heartfelt films of this or any recent year. An instant classic indeed.
The French film revolves around Philippe, a wealthy, widowed Frenchman who has been rendered a paraplegic by a hang gliding accident. Much to the consternation of everyone else in his life, he hires Driss, a young man with a very checkered past as his caregiver or, as he puts it, his “arms and legs.”
What follows is a film that is almost entirely (and thankfully) based on the relationship between Philippe and Driss. That’s right, no plot convolutions, guns, vampires, or exploding toilets. Just good, “old-fashioned” storytelling with two exceptional actors, a witty, deeply felt script, and direction that calls attention only to the unfolding and riveting story, not to camera or editing tricks.
Philippe is bored and utterly fed up from being so physically helpless and even more so from being on the receiving end of so much pity and sympathy. Into his life, walks Driss who really doesn’t even want the caregiver job at first and only shows up for the interview because he has to prove that he’s actually looking for work. From their very first meeting, both men seem to intuit exactly what they need from each other.
Driss is more fascinated then impressed by Philippe’s condition and immediately begins to crack jokes that delight Philippe even as they horrify his staff. Somehow, Driss knows that Philippe’s soul needs a collaborator, adventurer, and “partner in crime” as much as or more than his body needs physical help.
Through their interaction, we see and feel them fuel each other’s rebirth.
Based on a true story, The Intouchables is absolutely one of my favorite films of 2012.