Initially the plot of The Intouchables made me think of one of those exercises at a writers group where you are asked to create in great detail one character, then another who is totally different, then create a story that brings the two unlikely participants together and makes them interact. The fact that this film is based on a real-life story supports the cliche that fact is often stranger than fiction.
The Intouchables lead men are handsome enough to take the breath away – Francois Cluzet playing Philippe (the wealthy quadriplegic) and Omar Sy, playing Driss (the con man who found himself in the role of caregiver). The palpable chemistry between the two characters drew you close to the story – a story of what friendship is all about – the tensions as well as the teasing and play, the self-sacrifice and the generosity, uncontaminated with cheap movie-maker sickliness and sentimentality.
Secondly – I loved the paradox within the character of the impatient and rebellious Driss, a character from whom the viewer would least expect to see such fundamental respect for human dignity. I rejoiced in the stripping away of the highly-trained patronising pseudo-ness too often apparent in the caring professions. Driss knew none of that. He gave Philippe back his identity as a life-loving, adventurous individual who happened to have had a nasty accident.
Thirdly – I love a movie which freshens my insights, makes me laugh out loud (often), takes me on a joy ride, and sends me away mopping up a bit of emotion. The Intouchables did this for me. A must-see (though, actually, pretty well everyone I know has already seen it – and recommended it).