Cast: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Audrey Fleurot
Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
After smashing its way through the box office and hearts in France, The Intouchables finally lands on New Zealand cinema screens. Rumour has it as well, that it's on course for the Oscars next year - but time will tell.
It's the heartwarming yet irreverent tale of quadriplegic millionaire, Philippe (Cluzet) whose life took a turn for the worst after a paragliding accident. Confined to a chair, Philippe lives day to day, appreciating the finer things in life like art and classical music and yet not quite living properly.
One day, while interviewing for a new carer, he comes across Omar Sy's street smart ex-con Driss. Driss is there simply to tick a box and to apply for a benefit - however, when he ends up at the interview, his lack of interest in the role and stolid adherence to being there only because he has to (although he ends up flirting with flame haired interviewer Magalie, played by Audrey Fleurot), fires up something long dormant in Philippe.
Driss ends up being hired by Philippe and, unsurprisingly, the pair strike up an unlikely friendship as the carer from the projects brings his unorthodox view on life to the starchly stiff world of Philippe.
The Intouchables is very much the antithesis to the Diving Bell and The Butterfly - and is so diametrically opposed in approach that it's easy to see why this broadly uplifting and at times, irreverent comedy has been so cherished by many.
With the words: "Based on a true story" ringing out at the start, it's clear that this piece will strike a chord in many - and to be frank, having sat through it, you'd be hard pressed to have it not elicit some form of reaction from you while viewing.
Uplifting, surprisingly never mawkish and heartwarming, The Intouchables is a joy to behold. From the humour of the writing which punctuates any lingering sentimentality (which would normally threaten to derail a film such as this) to central performances which are never anything less than compelling despite being non-showy, it's a film which will linger on in you long after you've left.
With pathos and touching nuanced acting, the main duo paint a plausible picture of an unlikely and unconventional friendship and bond. Sy gives a dogged realism to his street character and Cluzet brings a restrained and underlying sadness to the man who believes his handicap "is not living in the chair - it's living without her (his wife)." Scenes have a tenderness when they need to and an irreverence which will cause laugh out loud moments when they come.
Some films are meant to be seen - and by seeking out The Intouchables, you will find yourself acknowledging some of the predictability of this story of a man from the wrong side of town meeting a man from the higher echelons of society, but yet revelling in the mismatched duo. Smart repartie and camaraderie punctuate the screen and with plenty of charm to it, The Intouchables is a near shoo in for Oscar nominations come 2013.