Conflix Resolution is our updated blog of selections of what to watch on Netflix Instant Streaming.
For this week’s edition of Conflix Resolution, I’m selecting a foreign film. Foreign films seem to be a tough sell for a lot of people, most of which who don’t seem to want to be bothered with subtitles. It’s unfortunate, because foreign films are such an essential part of modern cinema. You’ll be seeing a fair amount popping up on this blog. Last year was a particularly good year for French films. So good, that two French films ended up making my year-end Top 10 list. At No. 5 was Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” and at No. 8 was this weeks selection, “The Intouchables.”
When I first saw the trailer for “The Intouchables,” I thought that it looked awful. It looked like your typical emotionally manipulative, feel-goody, melodramatic Oscar-bait. But as it happens, the trailers steered me in the wrong direction, and I was completely wrong. The premise is pretty simple. It’s about a wealthy quadriplegic named Philippe (Francois Cluzet) who ends up hiring a ex-con named Driss (Omar Sy) as his caretaker. What was most surprising about the film is that rather than being forced and unnatural, “The Intouchables” was one of the more earnest movies I saw last year. It’s touching without being overly saccharine and to my surprise, a little more adult and R-rated than one might expect.
I think the best quality the film has to be the combination of Cluzet and Sy. Naturally, the biggest source of entertainment of the film comes from the mismatch of personalities. What makes the film excel is that Cluzet and Sy are absolutely perfect together. Throughout the film, their relationship is the source of both tension and hilarity. One of the best things about “The Intouchables” is how legitimately funny it is. As the film progresses and Philippe and Driss start to bond, the joking between them escalates into relentless ball busting and quips. Some scenes that stick out include those in which Philippe completely cracks up at Driss’ deriding of “cultured” activities. The film is also able to wring a lot of good-natured physical comedy out of Philippe’s condition. In addition, it has its share of more down-to-earth, emotional moments, all of which are absolutely nailed by its two leads. The film as a whole is well written, well acted, and hits virtually every beat (be it serious or comedic) it strives for.
The film is tailor-made for wide audiences and awards, which is why it was no surprise France selected the film over the darker toned and overall strong “Rust and Bone.” What was a surprise, however, was that “The Intouchables” didn’t even make the Academy’s short list of potential nominees. “The Intouchables” is already slated for an American remake, and I have no doubt that it will be a major crowd pleaser. With the Weinstein Company behind the remake, it may chase awards that eluded them last year. American remakes aren’t always a bad thing, but I find it hard to imagine two actors finding the same amazing chemistry as Sy and Cluzet. Watching these characters and actors bond is something truly special, so don’t wait for the remake. See the original now.