Bosom Buddies 

The French do "blockbuster" differently.

A scene from The Intouchables

A scene from The Intouchables

Without adjusting for inflation, the second-highest-grossing movie in American history is Joss Whedon's superhero smorgasbord The Avengers. In contrast, the second-highest-grossing movie in French history is Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's caregiver picnic The Intouchables. Neither movie is as impressive as its box-office take, but in contrast to The Avengers' hollow, market-driven bombast, The Intouchables is pleasant and warm-hearted, if a little disingenuous.

Omar Sy plays Driss, a Senegalese man living in a crowded Parisian housing project whose irreverent antics secure him a temporary job as a personal care assistant for Philippe (François Cluzet), a wealthy quadriplegic who's lost the use of his limbs after a paragliding accident. Although Driss is grossed out by the less appealing sanitary requirements of his new gig at first ("I don't empty anyone's ass on principle," he declares), he quickly grows comfortable at his new quarters in Philippe's house. When he's not wheeling Philippe around, he paints, listens to music in his own private bathtub, and tries to seduce Magalie (Audrey Fleurot), a red-haired bombshell who dresses like the Black Widow's cooler, older sister.

As Philippe points out, his new caregiver's lack of pity for his condition is one of the main reasons they get along so well. Thanks to Philippe's sense of irony and Driss' guileless exuberance, their scenes together are simultaneously light and tough. Instead of arranging meaningful encounters that may harbor life lessons about tolerance and privilege, Nakache and Toledano discover fresh moments of male bonding, as they do in a brief scene when the two men share a joint while a hooker massages Philippe's ears — one of his few remaining erogenous zones.

Unfortunately, the movie's most crowd-pleasing moments are also its most questionable ones. Driss' suspicion of modern art and classical culture is always indulged and validated, most notably when he livens up the end of Philippe's birthday party by busting on classical music before introducing the violinists and caterers to Earth, Wind and Fire's "Boogie Wonderland." Yes, it's amusing (and fair) to point out that many people associate classical music with cartoons and commercial jingles. On the other hand, these scenes largely serve to reinforce an audience's own upper-class suspicion and resentment. It's interesting to note that when Philippe sells one of Driss' paintings for an obscene mark-up, Driss' frustrations with the subjectivity of modern art vanish, because now he gets to play Jean-Michel Basquiat for a while.

To sum up: The Intouchables is far from a bad time at the movies, but don't trust it with your valuables.

The Intouchables
Opening Friday, July 13th
Ridgeway Four


The Intouchables
Rated R · 112 min. · 2012
Official Site:
Director: Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache
Writer: Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
Producer: Yann Zenou and Laurent Zeitoun
Cast: Omar Sy, Francois Cluzet, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot, Clotilde Mollet, Alba-Gaïa Kraghede Bellugi, Cyril Mendy, Christian Améri, Marie-Laure Descoureaux and Grégoire Oestermann


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for The Intouchables


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

    • Unreal Film Festival 2017

      Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Festival Invades Studio On The Square.
    • Ingrid Goes West

      Audrey Plaza’s Instagram envy turns toxic in this sharp, entertaining satire.
    • Outflix Film Festival 2017

      The Homegrown Festival Marks Twenty years of Bringing LBGTQ Films To The Mid-South


Intermission Impossible

Dream Home Heartache: "A Doll's House" is as Modern as it Ever Was

News Blog

Former Chef Convicted in Child Abuse Case

News Blog

Bike Share Program Seeks Director

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Namazu

From My Seat

No Fun League (2017)

Tiger Blue

Tigers 44, Southern Illinois 31

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies trade Troy Daniels to Phoenix

Music Blog

Listen Up: Louise Page


More by Addison Engelking

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation