posted by Simon Kemp
A Maserati is racing through the crowded streets of Paris at top speed, weaving through the traffic. A young black man is at the wheel, an older white man in the passenger seat is slumped against the window. A police car begins to give chase, and forces the sports car to stop. Driss, the driver, explains frantically that he is taking his disabled passenger to the emergency room. With one look at the gasping, groaning man beside him, the police realize that this is serious, and offer to accompany them to the hospital. Sirens wailing and lights flashing, the new convoy resumes the high-speed dash through the streets. Once the policemen have left them at the hospital door, the two men in the Maserati collapse in helpless laughter.
This is the opening to Intouchables (2011, released in the UK as Untouchable), France’s most successful film ever at the box office barring the all-conquering comedy, Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis. Intouchables has a bit more substance to it than that film, and had a whole lot more international success, but will still leave you with a big smile on your face.
The film, based on a true story, follows Driss, an unemployed young man from the banlieue, who must apply for unskilled jobs in order not to lose his benefits. One such job is a post as live-in carer to a quadriplegic millionaire. Driss shows up at the Paris mansion of the paralysed Philippe, concerned only to get the form signed that proves to the benefits office that he showed up to the interview. Unexpectedly he lands the job, and moves into the mansion.
What follows is a steep learning curve for both men. An initially prickly relationship turns into a firm friendship based around a shared love of mischief. Philippe rediscovers a taste for life that he’s struggled to find since the accident that left him in the wheelchair, and Driss realizes the new possibilities that his own life now offers.
See it now, before the upcoming Hollywood remake starring Colin Firth ruins it all for everyone!
One thought on “Bookshelf Film Club: Intouchables”
Super film and a French cinematic triumph.