The Untouchabled

The story of “Intouchable” is the kind of unintentional masterpiece that only movies can provide every once in a while, it has no other pretension than to depict a magnificent and inspiring friendship story starting as a simple job. A young man with a Senegalese background, Omar Sy as Driss, only needs a signature to prove that he attended an interview for a live-in carer job. For some strange reason, Paul, the rich man, played by a wonderful François Cluzet, gives him the job, with a one-month trial period. the film starts with all the job applicants, every one of them unnaturally posing and getting mixed in prepared answers. Then, Driss casually enters, without waiting for his turn or knocking on the door, he’s got enough problems to deal with, unemployment, an experience in jail, being a pariah for society, and undesirable even in his own family, especially her adoptive aunt. Driss’ attitude pleases Paul, because after his paragliding accident, he can’t feel his body from neck to toes, and needs caring almost 24 hours per days and 7 days per week,

The film shows Driss struggle to learn how ‘needy’ Paul is, which provides some priceless comedic moments, but “Intouchables” goes immediately to the core, an eye-opening message about the life endured by a handicapped person, making all the wealth in the world pointless and the richness of heart and mind, priceless. Through Driss and Paul’s interaction, the film explores the real needs of people in life, respect and understanding, acceptance and love. Intouchables”, the complicity between the two heroes feels absolutely real. There’s one scene when Driss shave the bushy beard of Paul,… well, I won’t spoil it for you, but the part was a clever mix of realism and comedy because anyone would have done what Driss did at one moment, and that’s the secret of the film: it feels real.

Some movies can work with a good story but they need good performances, in “Untouchable”, it’s almost impossible to determine who carried the film, both Cluzet and Sy were great. The way handicap is approached never flirts with an exaggerated pathos, nor the opposite, which is the most intelligent achievement. There’s a sort of heart’s intelligence in the way Omar teases Cluzet with his own handicap, and the film provides the extraordinary message that pleasure and thrills have unlimited media, whether they come from pot, an ear-massage or even paragliding.

Many of Paul’s friends criticizes the presence of Driss in Paul’s life, but Paul doesn’t care: Omar is a man full of life, big, tall and strong, and when he uses violence to teach a man the respect of a parking sign, Paul admits this is the right method. Both are in the same wavelength. There are real people in “Untouchable”, nothing works as plot devices even if some situations are so cinematically appealing: Omar inviting everybody to dance during Paul’s birthday, his learning of the aristocratic world, the art of abstract painting, and the way he breaks the conventions with an unconventional charisma reaches a level of energetic comedy that reminds of the greatest days of Eddie Murphy, with Cluzet as a perfect straight-man not deprived from a sense of humor. “Untouchable” is simply an inspiring story of friendship with whatever defines this beautiful virtue.