I don’t remember attending an opening of a French film festival. So I saw this gala with the eyes of a newcomer. It could have otherwise been a made in Cuba monotonous gala but, fortunately, the French (yes, French!) saved it. First, the ambassador from France, a good-natured guy that unleashed his humorous streak, then Christophe Barratier and Noredine Esadi-paying tribute to the actor Pierre Étaix, of whom a series of -movies will be shown, got the highjest point when they wore clown noses. Closing the ceremony was Étaix himself with a few words that earned him Cuban audiences to which he is virtually unknown.
After the formal inauguration it came, finally, Intouchables (Untouchable), a film that came with a trail of awards and millions of dollars made (it is the highest grossing non-English speaking in film history)
Intouchables’s argument is simple: Philippe (François Cluzet) is a quadriplegic millionaire, dependent on another person for most basic needs of existence and t bored by his almost vegetable stage in which life takes place. Driss (Omar Sy) is a young Senegalese looking to survive effortlessly in a country which is increasingly difficult for migrants. Driss gets a job as assistant Philippe and they engage in an incredible-meaning hard to believe-relation out of which both, as expected, come out better human beings.
It is a fact: we love stories of uneven couples. Beauty and the Beast, the Prince and the Pauper, Laurel and Hardy … again and again we fall at the feet of that effective formula used by the entertainment industry that allows us to assess the broad spectrum of the human condition. So when I heard about what was the history of Intouchables, and the success it has achieved, I figured it would be one of the year’s blockbusters. To make matters worse, right at the beginning the film shows one of the biggest hooks of this business, “based on a true story “. That there is no fault here, a classic I would dare say.
But Intouchables is a blockbuster and then some. It is a very correct movie from the formal point of view, all the work is put into supporting a cleverly constructed script and designed to make Omar Sy shine, now the darling of the French public. Man of a extraordinary empathy, and as demonstrated in several scenes, such as birthday party, with versatility-, he just appears on camera and shows his huge smile to immediately make us laugh out loud with his role of uneducated but with great sensitivity youngster.
One of the strengths of the script is that what might have been the center of the film, Philippe’s handicap is taken lightly and ridiculed to the extreme-few things escape the satire, even Hitler’s mustache, causing in the viewer exactly what the character looks in his world, that people don’t feel compassion for him. Philippe falls in love, becomes sexually aroused, is wrong, afraid, he is just a man. The dramatic overtones are brought by Driss personal life, his social context of marginalized immigrant. Social context which, incidentally, is viewed with a superficiality bordering on disrespect, but well, I guess social criticism was not among the directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano plans.
Some people watch the film, and art in general, with a Manichean view: either reflection or nothing, whether it is escape and entertainment or it is pure intellectual masturbation. Under these keys you hardly can enjoy the film. Best disarm and get ready to keep the aftertaste left by happy stories.
It is a comedy filled with good times, made so that the smile doesn’t not leave us from the first minute to the last, Intouchables is the perfect excuse to go as a family to the movies, or to invite that guy or girl we like. After those 112 minutes, the world seems be good enough to accomplish anything.