A huge box-office hit in France, where it out-grossed Harry Potter, Untouchable is an enormously entertaining feelgood movie about the unlikely friendship between a disabled white millionaire and his street-smart black caretaker. It’s based on a true story, but the real circumstances have been tweaked a bit, so that the real-life carer, Algerian immigrant Abdel Sellou, becomes Senegalese ex-con Driss on screen.
In the film, Driss (played by Omar Sy) only applies for the post of live-in carer for quadriplegic widower Philippe (François Cluzet, the hero in Tell No One) in order to safeguard his social benefits. But Philippe, unimpressed by the pussyfooting politeness of the other candidates, finds Driss’s laid-back attitude appealing and offers him the job.
It’s a situation ripe for culture-clash comedy, a set-up that co-directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache exploit with gusto, as Driss takes stock of his opulent new surroundings and Philippe rediscovers his appetite for life. The filmmakers unabashedly deal in stereotypes - Philippe sips champagne and listens to Mozart; Driss smokes pot and listens to Earth, Wind & Fire - and this has provoked the ire of certain critics, who’ve dubbed the film ‘Driving Monsieur Daisy’.
Most viewers, though, will be thoroughly charmed by Sy and Cluzet, who bring warmth, humanity and infectious good humour to their roles. Sy, in particular, is so charismatic that it’s not hard to see how he beat The Artist’s Jean Dujardin to the Best Actor prize at the 2012 César awards, the French Oscars.
On general release from Friday 28th September.
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