The Intouchables (2011) One Man Can Change Your Life Forever…


The Intouchables (2011) a French film directed and written by Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano. The Intouchables is a comedy as well as an intense drama. The film is based on a true story of a 61 year old, French aristocrat who is stuck in a wheel chair in 1993. The film plucks at our heartstrings with a beautiful sense of performance. This is impressive as the budget was only €9,500,000, with this the directors were able to have impressive long shots of Parisian life, paragliding and reckless car driving.

These aspects are what made the film so triumphant in so many different markets of the country. After only 9 weeks from the release of the film it became the second most successful French film, after Welcome to the Sticks (2008), which is first successful. It has sold nearly three times as many tickets worldwide as The Artist.

The film explores themes of companionship, loneliness and disability. The stem of the films motifs is centred on impotence and feebleness.  Having to completely rely on another human being to keep you safe and alive, this requires patience and trust. This sense of patience is used to style the film, slow, and steady like the pace of the film, for example the shots and sounds used. This links perfectly with the type of genre and narrative that is presented, allowing the audience to truly immerse themselves in the visual style and performance that the film offers them.

The film also explores the differences in people in society, yet t are able to connects and form a life long. Philippe is rich, Driss is poor, Philippe is a aristocrat, Driss is a criminal, Philippe enjoys Mozart, Driss enjoys Kool and the Gang. Though different they share humour and enjoy life’s many pleasures that they can better enjoy through the aid of each other.

The film is based in Paris, the refined and knowledgeable Philippe (François Cluzet) is trapped in a wheelchair, only able to move his head, and he is also a millionaire. Driss (Omar Sy) needs welfare money by looking for work, which is where Philippe and Driss meet. Philippe is interviewing candidates for his carer. The relationship between the two kindles when Driss is rude and unphased by Philippe’s condition. Philippe immediately connects with Driss and offers him a trial period to help him. This involves Driss staying with Philippe in his extravagant mansion, living the good life. Changing the boring life of Philippe and his employees

The Intouchables is based on a true story, that allows for a deep emotional connection to the characters. Driss was in reality a young Algerian man called Abdel. The directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache changed the character’s nationality to West-African, as they had enjoyed working with Omar Sy on Tellement proches (2009). François Cluzet expressed that portraying a man paralysed from the neck down was a particular challenge. “I’m an actor who isn’t fond of dialogue and who loves to act silently. That means I usually need my body to express things … Driss becomes my body in a way.” François Cluzet is one of Frances most respected actors. “I think it’s a very human story, and it’s funny and touching. Philippe chooses Driss as his caretaker partly because he doesn’t see him as disabled or pity him. He just sees another person.”


Both characters come from having a disadvantage in life for example one a physical disability, the other socioeconomic however, the characters bond because of this struggle. This is shown in a meaningful scene, where the two characters have a heart to heart, in a café, high on marijuana after Philippe struggles with phantom limb pain. The two speak openly, sharing the same eye level, allowing the camera to catch this intimate moment perfectly. Two guys talking about life forgetting Philippe’s real struggles such as only having his mind.

The French have made a true masterpiece; it is as visually pleasing as it is emotionally forceful. The Intouchables is a cinematic gem. Mathieu Vadepied is the masterful cinematographer that puts the film to justice. The use of angles and transitional shots helps to create that intense emotional bond that Driss and Philippe share. Mathieu dominantly uses tight zooms and close ups to explore this relationship, to reflect the friendship between the two. The close up shots forces the audience to be uncomfortable close to characters, stuck almost, reflecting Philippe’s emotional state and position during the film.

The composer for The Intouchables is Ludovico Einaudi who is known for composing for films such as This Is England (2006), Aprile (1998) and Insidious (2010). The music composed is influential to the film as it helps the audience identify important moments in the film. The song Fly by Ludovico itself is solemn and uplifting, matching the story perfectly the song itself is used to link to Phillips accident paragliding, Fly, ironically named, to represent though constrained to a chair he can still enjoy life, the music is played when this occurs. The film also features Earth, Wind and Fire songs such as September to introduce Driss’s effect on Philippes life.

The Intouchables is not just a drama, there are many truly enjoyable and funny moments which allows the film to develop and become even more heart warming for the audience, an example of this is when Driss experiences Opera for the first time.  The film can be slow paced at times, whether this is on purpose is a matter for you to decide, I believe this is so that the audience can soak in the emotions and style of the film. It is a pure cinema, visually pleasing, amazing performance and brilliant script. The films narrative is that of truth and honesty, how life real is, in all its pain and pleasure.  The film uses humour towards the ignorance and humiliation that people present to those who live with paralysis  every day. The film truly is a cinematic gift, that I have thoroughly enjoyed many times.  I hope you enjoy this film the way I have.



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