The Intouchables

Jul 13, 2012

No better comedic bromance this year and one of the best ever.


The Intouchables

Grade: A

Director: Oliver Nakache (Those Happy Days), Eric Toledano (Those Happy Days)

Screenplay: Nakache, Toledano

Cast: Francois Cluzet (Do Not Disturb), Omar Sy (Micmacs)

Rating: R

Runtime: 112 min.

John DeSando, WCBE’s “It’s Movie Time” and “Cinema Classics”“I don’t empty a stranger’s butt.” Driss (Omar Sy)

But he will, and you’ll not see a better comedy this year on either side of the pond than The Intouchables.  Or a better treatment of disability, without pity and filled with humanity.  Or a better buddy story than quadriplegic Phillipe (Francois Cluzet) and his aide, Driss (Omar Sy).

It’s a bromance without sex, a hands-across-the-social-divide that avoids clichés but still gives anticipated humorous setups a new vigor.

 Expecting tears and pity, I found laughter and love as Driss, a poor black man with a very big heart and personality, is hired by wealthy entrepreneur Phillipe to tend him. Although the eventual reinvigoration of daredevil Phillipe under the exuberant if rough Driss is to be expected with this kind of formula, the wholesome affection and lack of pity are infectious.

 Intouchables has numerous moments of hilarity and humanity such as when the two men speed down the highway almost hoping for police who will fulfill Driss’s prediction that they end up with an escort. Both men are speed freaks; both men are happy to indulge that passion.

 Another mirthful moment is Driss’s reaction to his first opera.  Opera lovers will especially like his unaffected amazement and amusement that this is how the rich spend their time. Sy is so good as Driss that even I would enjoy his spontaneous disruption of a serious operatic production.

Buried in the joyful surface is the subject of class differences.  Driss comes from living with several cousins in a small apartment, may have been a druggie, and avoids work. Phillipe is a wealthy entrepreneur who went too high fulfilling his danger lust. Beyond a small fee Phillipe wrangles from a friend for Driss’s painting, Driss gets no other improvement in his living situation and Phillipe deteriorates while he makes a difficult decision about Driss.

It’s not difficult to see why the film has been seen by over 300 million people so far and just begun to flourish in the US. 

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It's Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on demand at

He also appears on Fox 28’s Mind of a Man.

Contact him at