“You only ever watch depressing films,” said a friend when this reviewer exclaimed she was going to see Untouchable.
Its premise does sound pretty bleak: a French film about a rich quadriplegic named Phillipe (François Cluzet) that needs a new live-in carer, and a young offender, Driss (Omar Sy), who needs to go to the interview for the job to claim his benefits.
Yet you know from the first scene, in which the two are speeding through the Paris roads, pretending that Phillipe is having a fit to escape the police, that this is going to be more comedy than tragedy. Essentially, Phillipe is tired of patronizing carers and Driss injects fun into his life, and subsequently into this film.
The brilliance of Untouchable, then, is like his new carer. It can make a joke about disability without being offensive. For instance, there’s Driss’ unconventional methods of care work, like hiring an erotic massager to, er, “stimulate” Phillipe, and giving him a few tokes on a joint to help with his phantom pains. And it might sound like a bit of tired cliché but the more that Driss cares for him, the more these two men learn from “different worlds” and from each other (even if at first you can enjoy both Cool and the Gang, and Vivaldi).
The unique storyline and brilliant dialogue are matched in standard with the cinematography, which captures both the rich and poor sides of Paris. In just nine weeks since it’s release, Untouchable has grossed €10,675,300, which makes it the second most successful film of all time in France.
With plans for the French to pick it as their Oscar hopeful, and rumours of an English speaking adaptation in the works, the film looks set to have just as much popularity around the globe – and it will be richly deserved.