Film: "The Intouchables"; Actors: Omar Sy, Francois Cluzet; Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano; Rating: ****
What comes to mind when you think disability? Sadness, pity and charity? And what comes to mind when you think disability films? Same? If that's the case, "The Intouchables", a story of a man paralysed from the neck down and his helper, will surprise you with its wit, humour, fun and zest for life.
Driss (Omar Sy) goes for an interview as a helper for a paraplegic person only to get unemployment benefits. His acerbic frankness wins the heart of the disabled person Philippe (Francois Cluzet), who hires him against better advice.
The two form an unlikely pair - one physically disabled, the other socially; one morose, the other full of life; one with the money to do everything but not the limbs, the other with the limbs and life, but no money or social standing; one white, the other black.
As they touch each other's life in a fun, poignant manner, they change forever, becoming more the men than they ever thought possible.
The two things that will win your heart in the film is its witty humour and the chemistry of the lead pair. Rarely in cinema have two actors been so different and yet their pairing been so perfect, and their timing so immaculate.
Omar Sy as the black man from a Parisian ghetto is a revelation, while veteran actor Francois Cluzet delivers a punchy performance.
"The Intouchables" is a very important film in the history of cinema, because it is one of the rare instances where a film about a person with disability does not rely on pathos, melodrama and pity.
The writer-director pair of Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano handle this true story of an actual odd couple with a dignity, sensitivity and humour rare in cinema.
It becomes an important film because it explores a hitherto rarely explored dimension of disability - the life and living of people with disability and not their sadness. Yes it is sad they are disabled, but it is in no way pathetic and no way does it mean that life ends where disability begins.
Indeed, many disabled people claim today - to the utter surprise and horror of 'normal' people - that for many of them life actually began after their disability.
Thus showing that the most precious commodity in life is not necessarily the use of limbs, but a positive frame of mind, friends and laughter, it becomes a great, funny, poignant and uplifting film. Don't miss it for the world.
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