By Megan Malamood
“Sometimes you have to reach into someone else’s world to find what’s missing in your own.” This simple phrase is much more than a clever tag line—it can be deemed as a true motto for one of the most refreshing, evocative films today.
A French film from Paris, “The Intouchables,” was first released on Nov. 2, 2011, but did not make its way to American theaters until May 25, 2012. The film is in French with English subtitles, but the language barrier is quickly forgotten as soon as the captivating movie begins. Both written and directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, “The Intouchables” is based on a true story of two Parisian men whose lives intertwine in a most unexpected way to form a perfect friendship that is both unprecedented and irreplaceable.
Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy co-star in this film as the magical duo who can win over any heart. Cluzet plays Philippe, a wealthy quadriplegic in need of a caretaker to help him face the difficulties that simple, everyday tasks bring. Driss, a fit young man played by Sy, is unexpectedly hired for the position, despite the fact that his rough mannerisms seem out of place with Philippe’s aristocratic lifestyle. Just as Driss begins to understand the emotions, needs and desires of Philippe, Philippe begins to understand what has shaped Driss into the man he is, and both begin to realize that perhaps they are not very different after all.
In the time they spend together, Philippe and Driss develop an unspoken bond that outsiders doubted would ever be possible for them to form. They subconsciously give each other gifts that come only from their different experiences and life perspectives.
Driss is exposed to another world in which values are placed on things very different from those within his own, whereas Philippe has the chance to see what brings the most light-hearted joy to his much younger sidekick. In their quick-developing relationship, they manage to never go a day without fun and laughter, to teach each other how to make the best of life, how to live in the moment and how to fill their lives with as much happiness and love as possible.
Not only is the storyline of “The Intouchables” enjoyable, but the setting and the soundtrack are as well. Driss and Philippe travel through both the luxurious and lower-class areas of Paris and journey to the rolling French countryside, striking mountains and seemingly unspoiled beaches. The pleasing soundtrack varies from soft, quiet instrumental pieces of Ludovico Einaudi to upbeat, catchy songs of Earth, Wind & Fire to Nina Simone’s lively version of “Feeling Good.” The soundtrack captures the sentiments of the film perfectly.
“The Intouchables” is a quintessential story of a true and pure friendship as it explores the possibility of an unusual one, and successfully proves that it can (and does) exist. This film is everything in one—honest, uplifting and touching, yet full of humor, even as it portrays loss, hardship and the open-minded, optimistic attitude it takes to continue on. It will bring insuppressible laughter, a genuine smile and a long-lasting satisfaction of 112 minutes very well-spent.