Movie Review: The Intouchables (2011)

Posted: August 5, 2013 in Comedy

the intouchables

Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is a millionaire, who’s also a paraplegic, paralyzed from the neck down from a parasailing accident.  He interviews many qualified individuals to be his new caretaker, but then interviews Driss (Omar Sy) who is an ex-con, who is only interested in having Philippe sign a paper so he can receive public assistance.   Philippe challenges Driss to work for him for a month, and then he will sign his assistance papers.  Driss has never seen such opulence, he lives in a slum with his mother and many brothers and sisters.  Driss decides to take the job, and performs admirably, he finds out that Philippe has a pen pal and encourages him to call her.  Philippe in turn introduces Driss to fine art and classical music, everything is going along fine until Philippe notices that one of his prized Faberge eggs is missing, he accuses Driss of stealing it.  Driss sets out to find the egg, does he find it?  Does Philippe meet his mystery pen pal?

I really enjoyed the first few scenes of the Intouchables, they were intelligent and funny. Unfortunately, things go straight downhill after that.  This movie engages in some of the most pernicious stereotyping of any recent movie I’ve seen, black people are lazy, they only want public assistance, they smoke dope, they live in ghettos, and so on.  I don’t accept those stereotypes from American movies, why should I accept them from a French arthouse movie?  I find the whole attitude of this movie condescending and patronizing towards Driss, as if he can only learn about the finer things in life through the aid of a wealthy white benefactor.  Driss is in literary terms a “noble savage”  a 19th century term to describe a man from another culture who can only be inculcated into “civilized” society by someone else. This movie doesn’t realize it’s made in the 21st century.  In this movie Driss can’t learn about the finer things in society by himself, that’s too tall an order for this movie. Social mobility, don’t even think about it.  This movie manages to be chauvinistic as well, women are prostitutes and subservient playthings for both men.  There is only one scene where Driss mother stands up to his aimless attitude, the other women are around simply for both men to seek pleasure. The writers take a subtle shot at gays too, and this is supposed to be a feel good movie?  Are you feeling good yet?  The movie is also very slow and has a syrupy sweet ending.  The actors do what they can, but the writers sabotage this movie almost from the beginning. Francois Cluzet is ok, as the stodgy, cultured Philippe, Omar Sy Is funny and charming at times, but can’t save a bad script.

The Intouchables:  Don’t touch it with a ten foot pole.


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