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The smash French melodrama slams onto Region 1 Blu-ray. Mon Dieu...!
Sony / 112 Minutes / 2011 / Rated R / Street Date: March 5, 2013
The impact of The Intouchables in France cannot be understated. For Americans without an ear on the rail of affairs in that part of the world, this good-natured comedy/drama might seem like just another Best Foreign Film nominee that no one has ever heard of, but in France, this sucker was a monster hit, eventually becoming one of the most successful films ever shown there (it also got a couple Cesar nominations – it won for Best Actor).
The film itself, as displayed on this lovely high-definition release, is rampantly digestible and easily enjoyed – it’s no surprise that The Weinstein Company saw its potential and purchased it for a limited theatrical release last summer. In it, we chronicle the relationship of two men: Driss (Omar Sy) and Philippe (Francois Cluzet). Philippe is a fabulously wealthy quadriplegic who needs a new caretaker. Enter Driss, an enigmatic Senegalese immigrant from a Parisian suburb – he thinks he’s going to an interview for the gig as a reflex (he’s more interested in the signature on his welfare card than the job itself), but unsurprisingly, things gets complicated.
Driss gets the job as caretaker (at least on a trial basis), and the two men end up striking up a strained friendship. It’s this connection between the two that fuels the movie’s dramatic thrust: as they learn how to coexist with one another (not an easy feat, mind you), elements of each gentleman’s past end up coming into focus, and these revelations force them to reconstruct their relationship as dramatic elements in The Intouchables evolve.
While the film has cultural and political themes in its scopes, its bread and butter are almost defiantly simple, and while this charm certainly lends The Intouchables an immediate emotional zip, as a whole, the movie comes across as being perhaps a bit too precious and surface-level for its own good. But you don’t have to be a Francophile to recognize a crowd-pleaser like this one: The Intouchables may not have lit up American cinemas as it did in its native land, but there’s no denying this is a unifying, often touching cinematic experience.