Can't Touch This
Film Review: "THE INTOUCHABLES'
Published: Saturday, June 2, 2012
Updated: Saturday, June 2, 2012 14:06
With an opening sequence as enthralling as that featured in Nicholas Winding Refn’s 2011 film “DRIVE”, “THE INTOUCHABLES” proves to be manipulative immediately from the opening scene. Contrary to popular belief, this is not just another “magical negro” movie – a genre that us as Americans have been swamped with considering films like “THE GREEN MILE” and “DRIVING MISS DAISY” If that’s the utterly shallow way you want to look at it, then just stop reading this review right here.
Driss (played by Omar Sy) is the subject of this French character study, and he is a true gangsta. Fascinated by shiny tangible possessions and holding inside him an unquestionable animosity towards hipsters, Sy comes off as somebody suited for the streets instead of an overly blinged-out, contemporary actor thanks to the careful and calculated direction of Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano – who both also co-wrote the story.
After spending six months in jail, being a former criminal Driss isn’t allowed back into his mother’s already congested apartment with her multiple other children, so he finds his own way by manipulating the system as he always has. At first, he tries to file for unemployment by getting the needed amount of potential employer signatures. Doing that, he meets potential employer Philippe, whom he intends to get another signature from. Philippe is a quadriplegic who wishes to hire a live-in caretaker to help him do all his dirty work like feeding himself, putting his diapers on and escorting him around the city to view art.
Philippe takes a liking to Driss (whose childish behavior is completely opposite to Philippe’s sophisticated conduct) because he is strong, he has a brain, he is tough and he holds no pity for Philippe because of his condition – he sees him as a person just like any other that he deals with daily. This is because of what his character has been through, and although there aren’t any blatant flashbacks to tell you the struggles Driss witnessed, his character is so strong that you can see his rather immoral past in his eyes – especially when he looks at his younger brother, who seems to be hanging with the wrong crowd.
“THE INTOUCHABLES” has a lot more to say about psychological evolution within human beings. As you witness Driss become accustomed with the calm, enjoyable lifestyle of Philippe amidst an exposition of the beauty of Paris, you are witnessing a representation of what this world is becoming. With every passing day, each particular race, religion and any kind of category of people is losing its distinctiveness and therefore as a whole we are becoming more and more one. This is the only explanation behind the fact that Driss and Philippe, men of completely different upbringings and lives, get along so well.
Yes, Driss acts as a servant to Philipe, and that may seem blatantly racist in regards to the rather savage history of the slavery of Africans, but Philippe was going to hire somebody as his caretaker no matter what because of the circumstances of the plot! Driss make Philippe feel like he’s living again by taking him on magnificent journeys with professional escort services, fascinating car rides that take Driss himself back to his criminal days and into the wild to breathe like he never imagined.
At the same time, Philippe unlocks within Driss a person that never could have previously been expected by his family – a caring and compassionate yet still rough and tough human being who most certainly can function normally among society with the right guidance. Philippe provides him with that guidance, and Driss allows Philippe to unleash himself and do things he’d never consider doing before.
“THE INTOUCHABLES” is setting revenue records in France and has been very well-received thus far – it’s just too bad us Americans had to wait over a year since is debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 to see it. Nonetheless, this is definitely worth your time.