Intouchables (2011)

Sometimes, watching foreign movies that don’t make it to the mainstream cinemas can prove to be a wonderful experience.  There are many foreign movies (French, Iranian, Italian etc) that do make it big are nominated for the Oscar. Thanks to a friend who recommended this movie, I caught it on Netflix the other night, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The experience of watching Intouchables (not to be confused with the gangster movie The Untouchables!) was rather sweet and made for a major feel good movie, despite the fact that one of the character is a qudriplegic and the other just got out of jail.

This is the story of a French millionaire Philippe, who is paralyzed neck down after a paragliding accident. He is looking for a caregiver to look after him.

Enters Driss, a black man who is out on parole for robbery. He applies for the job as a caregiver, hoping to get rejected so he can claim unemployment benefits. While giving his interview rather cheekily, Phillipes find Driss refreshing.

Much to the shock of everyone in the household, Philippe hires Driss because he is also looking for someone to keep him happy.

Thus begins the journey of a very unlikely friendship between these two men. Philippe is an uptight, rich French man who has the etiquettes of a gentleman. Driss is a happy go lucky man from the ghetto, who freaks out when he sees the palatial bedroom and bathroom he gets to stay in.

Driss quickly realizes that his job is not merely just bathing, lifting up and changing clothes for Philippe. In the due process of time, Driss realizes that more than anything, Philippe craves for companionship (his wife is dead, and is left behind with a snooty daughter).

Which is where things become interesting when Driss pushes Philippe to act on a few things instead of sitting on it.  Vice versa, Philippe sees the world of Driss: broken family, struggling to make ends meet and so attempts to help him out. There is a culture shock too that divided the two class: Driss can’t seem to appreciate “modern” art which Philippe invests in, and Philippe can’t seem to get into the whole dance/ jive movement that Driss introduces him too. This makes for a great point: we don’t have to like everything about the other person’s culture/ beliefs/ values in order to appreciate them.

While the movie may seem tad bit predictable (Scent of a Woman, Driving Miss Daisy) the major appeal and charm of the movie lies in its two lead actors. So charming are they that it’s easy to fall in love with them.

A lot of life lessons can be drawn from the movie too- simplicity leads to happiness, pursuing one’s dreams can be fulfilling, learning another culture can be heart-warming, mere companionship can be life affirming.

It’s a rather simple, clean and easy to watch movie that may not be the masterpiece or Oscar worthy, but it’s definitely got it’s heart in the right place and will leave a huge, fuzzy feeling in your own heart; there are indeed good people out there.

3.5 out of 5

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