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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"The Intouchables" a feel-good tale on friendship

The Intouchables (Intouchables, French original title)

The real problem of this movie is publicity. This "advertisement era" ruins it all. In principle, its a good thing that a simple, well-intentioned film do great (ok, astonishingly great) on the box office. A movie based on characters and script, not in animation, special effects or 3-D is having an enormous success? We should celebrate that. But the snowball gets bigger and bigger, and commercial success is branded, sold and exploited. And with that goal in mind they have labelled "The Intouchables" as a masterpiece. And we are a million miles away from that.

To start with, "The Intouchables" might be based upon a true story, but it works as a very unoriginal, classic comedy about an "opposite, impossible couple", hardly unlikely to meet and forge a friendship. A brush-stroked class contrast between Driss, a young black and poor man from the suburbs and Philippe, a white middle aged, very rich and cultivated man, and since an accident, paraplegic. If you are thinking on a "Driving Miss Daisy" sort of film, you got it. Much improved, that is.

It doesn't take long to assume "The Intouchables" wants to please audiences.Which to a certain point, isn't necessary a bad thing to aim for. Especially when that feel-good smell comes from the chemistry between the main characters, excellently played by debut actor Omar Sy, who has a powerful screen presence (although his character has that "something" of bad American sitcoms too) and François Cluzet, and the humour, with some very remarkable jokes/absurdly funny and seemingly natural, situations (meaning a brilliant work of directors/writers Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano in that area). Don't expect a profound analysis/struggle on what does it mean to be disabled. Don't even expect a bittersweet film mixing drama and comedy. For almost its whole length, "The Intouchables" only wants to entertain you. Which as I said, is fine.

So, we have humour, a convincingly growing and sincere friendship, some beautiful filming, solid acting, and an undeniable connection with audience. So far so good. But the amount of positive elements is balanced by flat characters, in particular secondary acts, and a seriously lame attempt of bringing some social context to the story. "The Driss side" of story, initially presented, then excluded, much later recovered just for the sake of including a forced turning point (and maybe a counterpoint to all the feel-good amount of situations?), just to be abandoned five minutes after in order to reach the (obviously ever-pleasant end). Besides, the realism of the situation created is hardly believable, not to mention, the daily live of a disabled person showed on that film (did I say Philippe is extremely rich?). Of course, not every joke works that well. And a minor note: the flashback scene works great as an initial scene, but it has not justification later on.  

Engaging, with a genuine charm and chemistry between their starring couple, but otherwise a quite average film. Oh, and please Americans, would you please stop making absurd remakes of European films?

SCORE: 5,75/10

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