Not many people are going to see this movie, and that makes me sad. Sure it’s already the 3rd most viewed movie of all time in France, but your average American is not going to see it on their Flixster app and think that a French dramedy with English subtitles sounds like a film worthy of two of their summer hours. And chances are, since it’s a French film, they won’t see it on their Flixster app at all. Instead they will see the typical summer blockbusters unless they routinely check the movies playing at their local art house cinema.
But they should see this movie. I say this with 100% confidence.
The Intouchables is the uplifting true story of a wealthy French invalid and his unlikely caretaker, a man from the Parisian ghetto, and the adventures of their life together. While their union seems improbable and idealistic, a quality which many critics have harped upon, it still does not take away from the moments in the movie that make the viewer smile or laugh.
I don’t want to get into the plot as much as many reviewers might because so often reviews and previews give everything away, driving many people away from the theatre because they “know what happens.”
Instead, I’ll give you a few quick personal thoughts and one blatant opinion.
1) Movies that are subtitled tend to be funnier. When you hear a person make a joke or deliver a one-liner in a movie, sometimes it grabs you, sometimes not. Every moment that the writers would consider “a funny one” had the entire theatre, me included, in hysterics. That just wouldn’t happen in your average American comedy unless it was the funniest movie ever. I honestly can’t remember laughing in a movie as much as I did in The Intouchables since I saw Superbad in theatres. And The Intouchables isn’t even considered a true comedy!
2) Subtitled films require complete silence and attention from the audience. Nobody is going to pay $10-$12 to sit in a movie and text or talk on the phone or to their friends because they would miss something. I have never been in a more focused theatre than the one for The Intouchables. And if you read my scathing critique of the modern movie-going experience, you know that I am not one to praise going to see a movie.
3) When you see a film that stars people you aren’t familiar with, you make more of a connection to those people. It’s hard to separate certain American actors and actresses from other roles. Unless you are a French film buff, the stars of this film are only Driss and Philippe to you. Nobody else. It’s nice to be able to form an emotional attachment to the character, not the actor. (Note: François Cluzet who plays Philippe, looks a lot like Dustin Hoffman. But you’ll get past that. Omar Sy, who plays Driss, won the French equivalent of the Best Actor Oscar, beating out The Artist’s Jean Dujardin who took home the American award.)
4) You leave the theatre feeling better about life. It’s rare these days to find a movie like that. More often than not, you leave feeling like something could’ve been better or you wasted your money or you should’ve waited for RedBox. Not here. You will leave the theatre feeling great.
I loved The Intouchables. I will absolutely buy a copy for myself when it becomes available. It will make me feel good for years to come. I can’t wait to watch it with my kids one day.
The notion that critics are dismissing it as too idealistic or too improbable angers me. Yes, Driss cares about a man whom he barely knows. Yes, Philippe takes a thug into his home and trusts him completely. But why is putting such crazy idealism in a film a bad thing? Why should we turn our noses up at something so pure? Perhaps if we as a society whole heartedly loved more people we barely knew and gave 100% trust to people who normally wouldn’t deserve it, we might see a change in the way the world is heading.
Sure this movie is sappy and tugs at all the right heart strings, but why not give in to your emotions every now and then? This movie is wonderful, and it sure as hell beats most of the stuff that is out there.
Go see it.
Overall grade: A