The Intouchables

Passion Scent Sea Butterfly


24 May 2012| No Comments on The Intouchables     by Sean Chavel


Heart-tugging French import about a wealthy quadriplegic and a streetwise black hustler. The Intouchables (French, in English subtitles), already the second biggest moneymaking film of France’s history, teaches us about how two opposites sometimes make the best chemistry. Philippe (Francois Cluzet) loves classical music, four-hour opera, writing love poetry and paying 30,000 Euros for post-modern paintings. Driss (Omar Sy), a former felon, persuades him to get in touch with his more aggressive side. For example, Philippe is paralyzed from the neck down and can’t enjoy carnal love, right? So Driss gets a supersexy masseuse to work Philippe’s face. Hey, fun is fun.

You’ve gotten some description of the poignancy of bringing happiness into illness, yet it would be unexpected if I told you that “Intouchables” opens with a nighttime peak hour car chase where the two outrun the cops through busy Parisian traffic, whizzing in and out of lanes of cars (nothing like it in a French movie that I’ve seen since 1982’s “Diva”). We find out this takes place later in the progression of their relationship, and from there, it goes back to the beginning – the interviews for a caretaker.

See this is important. All the applicants come in and answer the questions reverently, while at the same time referring to the quadriplegic as a delicate thing, an indolent, a sloth without a brain. Philippe is immediately engaged by Driss’ abrasiveness because he’s the only one willing to challenge him on a mental level, and to sling jokes at his handicap’s expense. Driss is brought in, alright, as a full-time live-in servant – much of it going against his level of experience. Regardless, Driss saves Philippe from oblivion.

And those soppy love letters by Philippe sent to a woman he’s never seen? Driss insults the hell out of him with his Pollyanna approach, challenges him to write something saucy, and to call the lady. “Women want dough and security,” Driss persists. As for the former black street hustler, he just wants women of any nomenclature, loose skirts or tight button-up types. He lets all his flirting just hang out into the open. He serves as a role model to the debilitated Philippe, who for the first time in many years, learns to feel valid.

“Intouchables” was nominated for nine César awards and won one for Omar Sy for Best Actor, beating out his co-star Cluzet.

112 Minutes. Rated R. French in English subtitles.


Film Cousins: “Passion Fish” (1992); “Scent of a Woman” (1992); “The Sea Inside” (2004, Spain); “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (2007, France).


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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