I was dreading UNTOUCHABLE. I thought it was going to be an earnest soupy French Driving Miss Daisy with questionable racial politics, dripping in sentiment. I couldn't have been further from the mark. It's a film that is full of life, energy, humour - whose central characters are captivating and charismatic. I laughed my way through the movie, desperate not to leave its company, and would be more than happy to watch it again. It is undoubtedly one of the best films I have seen this year.
The movie stars Francois Cluzet (LITTLE WHITE LIES) as paraplegic millionaire Philippe, bored and frustrated by the endless parade of earnest, highly qualified, pitying carers. On a whim, he hires a petty criminal immigrant and self-confessed ladies man, Driss (Omar Sy) - who apparently also take the job on a whim - to acquire a bathroom all to himself!
The wonder of the movie is that their odd-couple friendship never feels like a cliché. They feel no pity for each other, genuinely care, and have that kind of open deep friendship where one can be utterly honest. A movie like this stands or falls on the chemistry between the leads - and here, it definitely works. I also love the fact that the co-directors and writers Oliver Najache and Eric Toledano (TELLEMENT PROCHES) wear their social commentary with a very light touch. There's no preachy politics contrasting Philippe's privileged life with Driss' over-crowded apartment in the banlieu - and although there is a powerful moment where Philippe sets Driss free to take care of his errant brother, the evident danger and limited opportunity of the banlieu is lightly sketched rather than dogmatically discussed.
Overall, a tremendous movie - superbly funny - never sentimental - with two of the most memorable characters of 2012. Not to be missed.
THE INTOUCHABLES aka UNTOUCHABLE played San Sebastian and Tokyo 2011 and was released in 2011 in Belgium, France and Hungary. It was released earlier in 2012 in Germany, Italy, Spain, Israel, the Netherlands, South Korea, Greece, Portugal, Taiwan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Turkey, Serbia, Estonia, the USA, Canada, Iceland, Cambodia, Kuwait, India, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil. It is currently on release in Japan, Hong Kong, Colombia, Sweden and the UK. It opens next weekend in Australia and New Zealand. It opens on November 9th in Norway; on November 22nd in Denmark and on November 30th in Finland.