In commemoration of the upcoming American remake, THE UPSIDE (2019), I’ve decided to check out the French original.
To my understanding, the film is actually based on true events, particularly on a man named Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, who actually was a paraplegic, though I believe the name of his caretaker was changed in the movie. If I were to hazard a guess, that’s what this movie is about.
Here’s the cast starring we have François Cluzet (stuff I’ve either never seen, or heard of) and Omar Sy (JURASSIC WORLD ).
Now for the crew co-directing and co-writing, we have Olivier Nakachi and Éric Toledano, both known for stuff that I have either never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Ludovico Einaudi, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. The cinematographer is Mathieu Vadepied, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Finally, the editor is Dorian Rigal-Ansous, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of.
Never seen this movie before but it’s got an 8.5 out of 10 on IMDb so it must be doing something right
This is my honest opinion of: THE INTOUCHABLES
Driss (Omar Sy) is a man from the projects who was recently released from jail for stealing. In order to receive his welfare benefits, all he needs is a signature on some paperwork that shows that he went in for a job interview, but was rejected. His venture leads him to the wealthy quadriplegic Philippe (François Cluzet), who is in need of a caretaker for his everyday needs. The two have an immediate connection and Driss is eventually hired full-time, and explore their respective personal struggles and finding common ground.
Crap, now I’m nervous about the remake because this was a really good movie. I don’t know if it’s 8.5/10 on IMDb good, but it’s in that ballpark.
In a lot of ways, I think this movie is pretty subversive of the expectations. Consider, two people on polar opposite sides of the social class spectrum, what does your mind immediately go to? “Fuck white rich people,” “You ain’t never known my hardships,” “Being rich is harder than you think,” you know, those tired tropes. But this movie never addresses that, or is never truly the focus of their friendship. More or less, it’s about getting Philippe laid. I’m of course exaggerating, but it is a plotpoint, and this wouldn’t sound very interesting if it weren’t for how funny and charismatic both Sy and Cluzet are And I swear, Cluzet looks like younger Dustin Hoffman. There’s never a scene that illustrates the pain of a quadriplegic. It addresses the realities early on and spends the rest of the time just giving each other shit, laughing at each other’s expense. And it never comes across as too mean-spirited, either. Even if Driss says something that can sound crass, or insensitive, it’s that kind of treatment that Philippe is looking for. He wants someone who will look past the chair and treat him like an actual person, instead of some kind of cause, or pet project. And that they share the same sense of humor is merely a bonus in their relationship.
Another expectation that this movie plays with is the third-act breakup. Again, in any other story like this… awe hell, in far too many stories completely different from this, this is one of the most tired clichés in storytelling. Some big fight, or misunderstanding that separates the characters, spend too many minutes of the film’s runtime on them moping and doping around before inevitably getting back together, you know that whole bit. Well, there is a third-act breakup, but it’s not a result of an argument. It’s that Philippe wants Driss to focus on mending things with his family and get his affairs in order. It’s done in such a heartfelt way that they both subtly know that it’s time to part ways. Yes, of course they get back together, but it’s very organic to the story. I kind of love it. And seriously, the shaving if the beard scene… too fuckin’ funny.
I think the only time the film loses me is any time the daughter, Elisa (Alba Gaïa Bellugi), appears. Her introduction to the story was random, literally showing up just to announce that she’s Philippe’s kid. Her next scene is barging into Driss’ room, demanding a cigarette, leading to her dad having a stern talk with her. Her final scene is her crying in her room because she broke up with her boyfriend, Bastien (Thomas Solivérès). Excuse me, let me rephrase. Her boyfriend dumps her after he calls her a slut… and she’s sad about it and wants to die. I don’t care about this bitch’s problems, especially since she wants to pay Driss to talk to him and convince him to take her back… which he does. I don’t know, I really didn’t like that, or Elisa’s character. She contributes nothing to the story and it would be more accurate to say that the movie is put on pause to deal with her, even though if you wrote her out entirely, you wouldn’t miss a bloody thing.
Overall, I really like this movie. It’s got a lot of heart, more than a few laughs, the dramatic moments were earned, and is a wonderful film about friendship. I didn’t much like Elisa, but she’s barely in the movie, so I can’t say that she cripples the story in any way. This was so good, so it gets a fairly high endorsement from me.
My honest rating for THE INTOUCHABLES: a strong 4/5