By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
The Untouchables is a classic from back when Brian DePalma was still making decent movies, starring Kevin Costner, Robert DeNiro, and in a career-resurrecting turn, Sean Connery… oh wait, this isn’t that. This is a French film with the same title (Les Intouchables), translated to… The Intouchables. Why… that isn’t even nearly a word.
Ma, this here grub is positivilutely intouchable!
Nope, this movie is only the highest worldwide grossing French-language film ever. It also swept the French version of the Oscars, the Cesars, with co-lead Omar Sy becoming the first black man to capture Best Actor, over Jean Dujardin’s Oscar-winning The Artist performance, no less. Sy is a spirited, uninhibited immigrant hired as caretaker to a bitter, aloof, and extremely wealthy paraplegic man (Francoise Cluzet). They both learn from each other’s vastly different lifestyles and grow as human beings, yadda, yadda, yadda…
The film starts with a nice cold open that has a quality emotional tie-in later on. Right from the start you can see this is a well-shot and crafted film, with an attention to detail that goes beyond that of most other crowd-pleasers.
Les Intouchables is unquestionably that, though. The humor is broad, but there are plenty of truly funny moments nonetheless, and both leads do a great job of rising above the material and creating well-rounded characters. Even when the inevitable “paragliding freakout” scene comes up, it’s handled better than most.
Not using terrifying CGI faces is a good place to start
That humor sure is broad, though. When it works, it works, but when it doesn’t, think Driving Miss Daisy as directed by Brett Ratner.
This is based on a true story, but chooses to spend its time on culture clash comedy and romantic subplots instead of exploring more interesting aspects of what actually happened, like Sy’s troubled family history or Cluzet’s relationship with his daughter. These things are touched on, but never fully developed.
You may be hearing from this come Oscar time, as France submitted it as its Best Foreign Language Film entry. Honestly, it’s not that kind of movie, but it does have enough humor and heart to make up for a broad and shallow plot. Or I guess you can wait for the remake starring Colin Firth…
Take a Drink: every time there’s a music reference
Take a Drink: any time Omar Sy talks about women
Do a Shot: whenever you see a Faberge egg