The intouchables (a movie review)

By mgaft1 | Day by day | 19 Sep 2020

Directed by Olivier Nakache & Éric Toledano.
Starring François Cluzet and Omar Sy.



In a couple of words, this is a story about an unexpected friendship between a cripple Phillip and his hired caretaker Driss; unexpected, because they are people of different social stratum, cultural background, and income levels. In the eyes of a refined and structured Phillip’s surrounding, who walks around Phillip on their tiptoes, Driss, who is an immigrant from Senegal living in the project on the outskirt of Paris, appears as a brute and even a violent man.
Phillip, however, recognizes in him a direct, and a sincere man, with practical out of the box thinking.

During the interview, one of the other candidates for the caretaker position says that he likes crippled people. Philip immediately points out his pretentiousness and especially values that Driss doesn’t treat him as a cripple, and notices Driss’ quick wit, which made Phillip laugh. Phillip, who is according to the movie script, is a famous connoisseur of classical music, asks Driss a question about his familiarization with Berlioz. Driss asserts his familiarity. In the subsequent exchange, Philip realized that they spoke about different Berlioz. Phillip spoke about a famous French romantic composer while Driss had in mind a rapper who lived in the neighboring project.

When it comes to Driss’ supposed luck of commiseration, as unlike all other Philip’s surrounding who walk around Phillip on his tiptoes, his behavior during Phillip’s panic attack puts everything in the right perspective. Driss comes across as a very kind and caring man, only his kindness is not ostentatious or a politically correct kind variety.
When Phillip starts hypo ventilating during the night, Driss takes him outside to see Paris at night. Something that Phillip hasn’t done in ages.

Driss makes Phillip’s life more fun, more real, more adventurous, more worth living.


He even interferes in Phillip’s epistolary romance making Phillip experiencing much anxiety but at the same time much joy.

On a more profound level, Driss personifies an injection of African culture into a European one.
Although at the first glance it might appear as “brute and even a violent”, as an introduction of anarchy into a very structured, refined, and yet crippled European culture, it invigorates it, giving it a new fresh perspective.

The scene in the theater, in the museum, and during the introduction of the most famous classical music pieces to Driss, his humorous, sometimes ignorant, and sometimes apt reaction to it, confirms this director’s objectives. With time, Driss’s down to earth and practical attitude toward problems that people in the environment Phillip’s home have earned their respect and amiability. Often the problems Driss is able to resolve are only problems within a highly structured and a very conservative environment and are implausible in the real world. That’s what the director’s message about the confluence of different cultures and the advantages of the resulting diversity.

It is hard to judge whether this cultural melting pot, toward which humanity moves are positive or a negative movement as it is difficult to put forward the criteria, according to which this confluence could be judged. Some people might feel nostalgic about the unique cultures of each of Earth’s locality. And yet, the planet moves toward globalization and a cultural unification regardless of whether they like it or not.

I can only applaud the director about his very soft approach in introducing a diversity paradigm unlike a usual "shove done your throat" approach.

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