French comedies rarely travel well, but The Intouchables, the first film from the writer-director team of Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache to be commercially released here, has earned its status as an international blockbuster. Based on the true story of an ex-con (Omar Sy) and the millionaire (François Cluzet) — paralyzed in a paragliding accident and sick of being pitied — who hired him as a live-in caregiver, it manages to be feel-good (thanks to music from Earth, Wind and Fire) and clear-eyed.
>> READ: "An interview with director Eric Toledano" by Cassandra Landry <<
A cultural exchange follows between these two men who are "intouchable": one via paralysis, the other through the systemic classism and lack of social mobility that sequesters poor families in housing projects on the fringes of Paris. Cluzet's cranky patient is a refreshing twist on the usual movie stereotype of the disabled, but the film was conceived as a vehicle for Sy, a charismatic comedian in a compelling performance that needs no translation.