Starring: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Auder Fleurot
You may like this if you liked: The Diving Bell and Butterfly (Julian Schnabel 2007), Educating Rita (Lewis Gilbert, 1983), My Left Foot (Jim Sheridan, 1989)
Phillippe (Cluzet) is an extremely wealthy aristocrat who due to a paragliding accident has lost all control of limbs from the neck down and is trying to hire a carer for himself. Driss, a Senegalese immigrant, attends the interview for this job simply so he can prove he has attended an interview to get his benefit. However, Phillippe is impressed by Driss’ honesty he decides to give him a trial as his carer. As Driss has been made homeless by his mother, and the job includes having a huge bedroom in Phillippe’s house Driss decides to accept. What follows is the two men from completely different worlds showing each other to appreciate in life what they took for granted. Also, despite his humble background, Driss’ honest approach to life and natural charisma lights up the lives of both Phillippe and his resident servants.
Untouchable has been a huge box office success in France and has finally arrived on DVD here with the usual “uplifting comedy drama” quotes all over the cover. Well that is not too far from the truth here, which is both to its credit and contributes to its downfall.
Firstly, this is an immensely enjoyable and extremely watchable film. The plot itself develops at a very good and consistent pace and it never gets boring. The character development is really good and what really makes this film such an excellent watch are the performances from the two lead characters. A story of this kind of course has been done before, but Untouchable manages to feel fresher and avoid most clichés. There are some genuinely funny and touching moments throughout this film and there is very much a poignant ending.
However, Untouchable is based on a true story which of course means there are certain elements of the story that have, shall we say, creative license. Films of this kind of story have a tendency to be predictable and Untouchable is certainly no exception, as though there are a few surprises along the way, it is pretty much obvious what is going to happen. Everything always feels very lovely and woolly, like the story has been wrapped up in cotton wool. All plot developments develop very nicely and conveniently along, almost too conveniently.
There appears to be an almost naive approach to compassion of humanity, I know that is the main theme of this film but it all feels too easy. The relationship between Phillippe and Driss develops very neatly and without any obstacles or hitches, despite the fact the two of them are from completely different worlds. Maybe I am a little cynical, but I feel it would not be such a smooth ride, unless of course there was simply not enough time to put these sorts of plot developments within a film which is just under two hours anyway. The message here that there is good in all people no matter where they come from, and all they need is a chance is a lovely thought.
However this film perhaps is a little naive in this way and prefers to shy away from any real grittiness that may have been a part of this situation in real life. However, films are of course first and foremost for entertainment, and Untouchable never attempts to be preachy or try to lecture us about how we live our lives, and for that it should be commended. This film knows its place as sheer light hearted entertainment, and it most certainly achieves this.
In summary, Untouchable is a very watchable and genuinely moving film about human compassion. The story is a little predictable, and so this is certainly not a challenge to watch, but certainly an extremely enjoyable light hearted story and two hours very well invested in.