There's a serious problem with American audiences. Most do not like foreign films. Subtitles. People who speak other languages. No special effects. It's a serious problem because films like The Intouchables (Intouchables) go largely overlooked in the States, despite the movie being an international box office hit (nearly $400 million and counting) and one of the best movies of the 21st century.
François Cluzet (Tell No One) stars as Philippe, a rich widower who is paralyzed from the neck down. On a whim he hires a young man named Driss (Omar Sy) from the projects to be his caretaker, despite no experience and little interest in the job. Driss also shows little compassion toward Philippe's condition, which is exactly why Philippe hired him in the first place. The two form a close bond that reinvigorates Philippe and broadens Driss's perspective.
Written and directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, The Intouchables is an extremely funny, fun and relatable comedy-drama. The interactions between Philippe and Driss are often hilarious, sometimes heartwarming and always engaging. Cluzet is terrific in his role, but it is lesser known Omar Sy who is the backbone of the film. The two actors share great chemistry together, but Sy's hilarious, exuberant performance injects pure energy into the film.
The small supporting cast also adds color to the film, led by Anne Le Ny who plays Yvonne, one of Philippe's assistants. While her role could have easily been a thankful one, she too shares great chemistry with Sy and delivers a likable and relatable performance.
It always bothers me when a friend tells me he or she won't watch movies with subtitles, because that immediately removes a not-insignificant amount of great titles from the pool of available movies. While I can understand that the content and structure of many foreign films won't appeal to American audiences, ruling out a movie simply because it's in a foreign language is silly. The Intouchables is a perfect example. There's nothing artsy or sophisticated about it: the movie is a blast, and one that American audiences would appreciate.
The Intouchables is also one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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