Oftentimes, it seems like Americans shy away from seeing foreign films. Perhaps it is because they are hesitant to see a film whose stars are not recognizable, or perhaps it is because they do not enjoy reading subtitles. Either way, foreign films seem like they are only for the most dedicated of movie goers.
“The Intouchables” is the rare foreign film that is so enjoyable it makes its viewers forget that they are reading subtitles, and by the end of it makes the audience feel like they are watching old friends on screen.
The 2011 French film, which is based on a true story, tells the tale of a nearly-unthinkable friendship. It stars Francois Cluzet as Phillipe, a quadriplegic aristocrat seeking a caretaker. Enter Omar Sy’s character Driss, a troubled young man from the wrong side of the tracks who spends his time drinking and smoking with friends on street corners. After applying for the job out of spite, Phillipe chooses Driss because of his rough around the edges personality and although it seems like the wrong decision at first, the two men quickly develop an incredibly strong friendship.
Both men’s performances are fantastic. Sy plays his character in a way that makes audience members feel for his character, especially once they realize that he lives the lifestyle he does not necessarily because he wants to, but because it’s the only life he has ever known.
Cluzet is phenominal, as well, and although he is not paralyzed in real life, one would never know that. In fact, I had to research it to find out he wasn’t. Together, the two men have a palpable chemistry and their smiles on screen are bound to make viewers smile too.
For such a sensitive subject, the film handles it in a very delicate way, due mostly to the film’s smart script. It certainly does not ignore the fact the Phillipe is in a wheel chair or that the two men have nothing in common, but it doesn’t let these things get in the way of the friendship that lies at the films heart.
For those worried about reading subtitles or for those who do not enjoy foreign films, “The Intouchables” is the perfect film to make you reconsider your decision. The subtitles never get in the way of the film and are done in a way that make you forget you are even reading them.
Overall, “The Intouchables” is an incredibly heartwarming and charming film and is definitely an enjoyable option for those who don’t enjoy the late summer beat-em-up films.
4 stars out of 5.