The Intouchables

intouchables

Like Jerry Lewis, this French buddy comedy is a huge hit with Gallic audiences. Senegalese actor Omar Sy, whose sublimely funny and touching performance won the French Oscar, is spectacular as Driss, an ex-con hired to care for Philippe (François Cluzet), a rich white widower paralyzed after a paragliding accident. The Intouchables, an awkward title that translates as "untouchable," is seriously silly business. Co-written and directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, the film is based on a true story, except that the real caregiver is Arab, not black. There is a strongly vocal contingent among critics who find it cringeworthy and racist to watch a Magical Negro teach whitey to loosen up by boogieing down to Earth, Wind and Fire at a party. I'll leave you to call it as you see it. What I see in The Intouchables, already slated for a U.S. remake by the Weinstein Company, is a tasty bonbon spiked with mirth but light on malice. Crude? Maybe. Insensitive? You bet. But Sy and Cluzet are superb actors who demolish stereotypes about race and social class by finding a common humanity in their characters. Acting this good forgives a lot of sins.

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