( some spoilers)
Everyone I asked about this movie said it was great. Well, you know what that means. You go with your expectations up, expecting to see a real good movie, and then you are often deceived. Not here. It is very nice.
Since it’s French, however, it has some ugly issues as well. It endorses and makes fun of prostitution and, given what pigs French people are in general, yet another movie to normalize homosexuality.
But the main characters don’t have any homosexuality problems and the black guy did an excellent job in his acting. I found this captured a lot of the movie: “The Intouchables works as a crowd-pleaser not because it’s true, but because it’s a plausible enchantment.” Which is why it’s so annoying that they blare out all over the marketing that It’s Based On a True Story. But then you’re fed an entirely witty, cushy, irreverent script, made to please and entertain YOU.
I think the movie is actually based on a book that recounts the experience of the two real-life men. But when I finished watching the film, I was sad. Actually half way or so through the movie, I was already repeatedly thinking how life is so extremely not like this movie. The fact that it may have been somewhat like this for two people doesn’t change that it’s not like it for 8 billion others. The first thing that happens when most employees or anyone else who is in an inferior power position talks back like Driss did in the movie is that they get fired, punished, or suffer retaliation. The very first time they do it.
“A comedy aiming to please crowds.” Totally.
Then there is the issue that one reviewer called the “clash of the classes.” There isn’t much of a clash anywhere in the sense of class struggle or Marxist criticism to the rich or to being rich. A couple of jabs here and there only. Everyone is generally quite happy with the ultra-richness of the white guy – and, ironically, we are talking about France here. 200 years later, Marie Antoinette’s lifestyle is definitely in style without much criticism, having quite effectively subverted the revolutionaries with welfare.
What I found that is much more salient than class conflicts is the “savage comes to the civilized world” thread, with the obvious result that the “savage” then reveals that the “civilized” have their hot-air, silly, dysfunctional, and stupid rules and attitudes. And some of these scenes and jokes are really nice (at the opera, the Fabergé egg being seen as and called a Kinder by Driss, etc.).
Most of the story line develops quite well, with a great pace. However, I felt it was completely abrupt how all of a sudden Driss is let go. It seemed badly written. And then the “Sound of Music” kind of ending was a bit too much Sound of Musicky for the atmosphere and central theme here. After this weird and unconvincing separation, the only thing that salvages it is the the rich guy’s surprise final date.
Lastly, my favorite element in the movie is the reason why the rich guy hired Driss: he was the only person who didn’t treat him with pity. Whatever good feelings Driss displayed in regard to his quadriplegic boss/friend, they were sincere. Driss offered a level playing field in their interactions, even while having some considerable faults (like stealing from the guy, etc.).
I watched it in French with English subtitles and was also quite surprised with the translation quality. Very good translator!