The Intouchables is about the handicapped — and is in French with sub-titles—a double whammy! Now that I have that out of the way, can I say I loved this movie? Would I have picked it had I known what I just told you? Probably not. Would I have missed out on an amazing, life affirming story? Absolutely.
Monotony. Sounds like a boring word but it claims a whole new meaning when it describes, not just a few hours but the rest of your life. That’s what French aristocrat, Philippe was facing. Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is a quadriplegic who used to be a daredevil. Now he is trapped in his own body, relegated to a wheelchair. Philippe has a houseful of staff but they all seem to fawn over him. In the beginning of the story he is interviewing for a care giver, someone with a strong back and strong hands. Everyone who comes to interview seem to have sterling resumes. When ex-con Driss (Omar Sy) shows up it is for one reason and one reason only: he needs to get a signature to prove he’s out looking for a job so he can draw his benefits. No sterling resume but there was something about him that told Philippe this one just might make a difference in his “hohum” existence.
The Intouchables is an irreverent, uplifting comedy about friendship, trust and human possibility. This film depicts an unlikely camaraderie rooted in honesty and humor between two individuals who, on the surface, would seem to have nothing in common.
This true story fascinated me. I have to admit that personally, I often don’t know how to act around the handicapped. It’s not that I don’t care for them but more than likely that I care too much. I don’t want to hurt or offend them. I suppose, in my ignorance, I just never had the courage or the honesty to ask the question: how would you like me to treat you?
In real life, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo is a descendant of two prominent French families and is the director of one of the most celebrated champagne houses. He was not in the habit of asking for help. Then in 1993, right on the heels of his wife being diagnosed with a terminal illness, a paragliding accident left him a quadriplegic. In a moment, he became the equivalent of an “Untouchable,” unable to reach out to others as others were afraid to reach out to him.
The only person who seemed unaffected by Philippe was someone who had been marginalized his entire life, Abdul the unemployed, uninhibited Algerian immigrant who would become his unlikely caretaker. In between dramas and jokes, he sustained Philippe’s life for the next 10 years. Philippe wrote a book about this period of time entitled, “Second Wind.” Philippe describes his friend, Abdul, as irreverent and cheeky, with an outrageous sense of humor; a sweet craziness.
This statement is depicted splendidly by directors and writers, Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. The Intouchables, a French box office hit, has taken home many awards in Europe. Go see The Intouchables! You’ll be glad you did, then email me at email@example.com
PS: This film is graphic, so it’s not for young children.