Direction: Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache
Cast: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy
A smash hit in its home country, this French buddy comedy is released here in an English, dubbed version with accompanying subtitles. But a glitch at the press preview resulted in the first half of the film being screened in the wrong aspect ratio format.
The top of the frame was invariably cut off and the subtitles seemed to play hide-and-seek. By the time the error was rectified, one practically lost interest. Evidently, distributors and exhibitors need to ensure that their films are at least properly projected.
Intouchables starts exuberantly enough, with a young black man and an older white guy speeding through the streets of Paris when their car is pulled up by the police.
The white man (Cluzet), it turns out, is a quadriplegic millionaire.
A connoisseur of abstract art and classical music, he’s been rendered immobile by a paragliding accident.
The black guy (Sy), on the other hand, is an unemployed Senegalese immigrant who reluctantly accepts the job of caregiver.
The simplistic screenplay, derived from a true story, revolves around the unlikely friendship which develops between the two protagonists. Surmounting class, cultural and colour barriers, they help each other come to terms with their physical, emotional and familial dilemmas.
There are occasional outlandish situations, like the visit to the opera, but co-directors Toledano and Nakache can't find ways to make the standard triumph-of-the-spirit tale feel fresh.
Veteran French actor François Cluzet employs only his expressive eyes and voice to convey the paralysed man's frailty and loneliness. Omar Sy, who deservedly snagged last year's Cesar (the French equivalent of the Oscar) for best actor, brings a surprising depth of feeling to his complex character.
Not surprisingly, this frothy concoction is in the pipeline for a Hollywood remake. In all likelihood, Bollywood too will jump on the Intouchables bandwagon.