DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

The Intouchables Blu-ray Review

The Intouchables (2012) U.S. movie poster The Intouchables

US Theatrical Release: May 25, 2012 / Running Time: 112 Minutes / Rating: R

Writers/Directors: Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache

Cast: François Cluzet (Philippe), Omary Sy (Driss Bassari), Anne Le Ny (Yvonne), Audrey Fleurot (Magalie), Clotilde Mollet (Marcelle), Alba Gaïa Bellugi (Elisa), Cyril Mendy (Adama), Salimata Kamate (Fatou), Absa Diatou Toure (Mina), Grégoire Oestermann (Antoine), Dominique Daguier (Amie de Philippe), François Caron (Ami de Philippe), Christian Ameri (Albert), Thomas Solivéres (Bastien), Dorothée Brière Méritte (Eléonore), Joséphine de Meaux (Nathalie Lecomte)
The Intouchables is one of DVDizzy.com's Top 100 Movies of the Half-Decade (2010-2014).The Intouchables ranks 68th in our list of the Top 100 Movies of the Half-Decade (2010-2014).

Buy The Intouchables from Amazon.com: Blu-rayDVDInstant Video

Americans have little reason to know that The Intouchables was a bona fide global phenomenon. Slowly rolled out to 200 theaters last summer, this 2011 French film grossed $10 million in North America, a most respectable sum given its limited release and foreign origins,
but in the neighborhood of flops like The Words and Fun Size in terms of overall revenue. Elsewhere before and after, this dramedy did a better job of drawing, and resonating with, audiences. In its native country, the movie topped the box office for a record ten consecutive weeks from November 2011 through January 2012.

It performed similarly in the neighboring regions it next hit, prospering throughout Europe and in South Korea. It would go on to shatter the 10-year-old benchmarks of Spirited Away, handily becoming the top-grossing film worldwide in a language other than English or Aramaic. Its $427 million global haul puts it on the order of Wreck-It Ralph, making it a blockbuster in spite of its inability to transcend a language barrier in the film world's capital.

Written and directed by the young but seasoned duo of Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, The Intouchables tells the story of an unlikely friendship. Philippe (François Cluzet) is a wealthy, middle-aged quadriplegic Frenchman confined to a wheelchair and resigned to extensive therapy. Driss (Omar Sy) is a poor, young African man with a bit of a criminal record, applying for the revolving position of Philippe's personal assistant purely as a charade to collect unemployment benefits. Impressed by his candor, Philippe hires Driss over far more qualified and thoughtful applicants. He bets the young man won't be able to last a couple of weeks. Driss proves him wrong.

Driss (Omar Sy) and Philippe (François Cluzet) enjoy a fast ride on Philippe's souped-up wheelchair in the 2011 French comedy "The Intouchables."

Defying their stark differences in class, race, finances and privilege, the two men quickly form a dear kinship. Philippe introduces the young man to classical music: Vivaldi, Bach, etc. Driss shares his own notion of the classics: Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool and the Gang. Philippe appreciates that Driss gives him no pity. Driss is glad to have a place to live and steady income. Neither is entirely comfortable with the job's demands, but they endure them with senses of humor that come to align and the ability to sustain candid, substantial conversations, often over therapeutic shared joints.

Each man betters the other's life in obvious ways. Exposed to culture, Driss tries his hand at painting and produces something Philippe is able to sell for $11,000. Meanwhile, Philippe, still mourning the death of his wife of 25 years, gets advice from Driss on how to approach a woman in a way more forward than his six months of passionate letters to a woman he's never met or seen.

The film opens with the pair, by now friends, performing some role-play to receive an unnecessary police escort to a hospital instead of a well-deserved speeding ticket. That sets the tone for the kind of crowd-pleasing comedy this is. The Intouchables is funny and it makes you feel good. That isn't just an expression; I entered the film with a headache and low blood sugar, but both soon passed as I became swept up in this funny and charming story. I can't guarantee that watching this film will cure your minor ailments, but it does seem at least tantamount to chicken soup for your body, mind, and soul.

Though out of his element, Driss (Omar Sy) comes to make himself at home in Philippe's stately mansion. Many have notice a resemblance between François Cluzet and a slightly younger Dustin Hoffman.

The countless joys offered within make the film's wide-reaching success quite understandable. What's frustrating is that not that many moviegoers in America bothered to find that out. This isn't some eccentric art house fare nor is it the kind of Trois hommes et un couffin-type farce that Hollywood has been wont to remake. If anything, despite the language, The Intouchables' closest genetic matches are enjoyable American buddy comedies, not the kind that win Oscars or make AFI lists, but the kind that endure in frequent cable airings and oft-purchased discs.
It reminded me of films like Houseguest and Nothing to Lose, two that I and others regard highly. Not just in the fact that it centers on an unlikely interracial friendship, but just in the cultural references it uses and pure big-hearted, feel-goodness. If Houseguest was in French and subtitled, I suspect that the typical critic and film snob would find it a lot more irresistible.

For the most part, critics did find The Intouchables irresistible, if not echoing the enthusiastic endorsement of the public (e.g. the IMDb votership, who have currently ranked this 62nd among all films, shortly behind Double Indemnity, Aliens, and Toy Story 3) then at least liking it enough to declare "75% Fresh." And, really, how can anyone not like this movie? The biggest complaint you can lob at it are that it is feel-good cinema, carefully crafted to delight all who encounter it. But if the movie is as well-made, well-acted and endearing as this, it seems awfully curmudgeonly to question its motives.

Should you understandably doubt its reality, you may have missed the part near the beginning that announced it was based on a true story. The end credits' clip, however, reveals the inspiration for Driss to not look so cool and thin and Philippe to be less than debonair. This is a different kind of sugar-coated movie version than what Hollywood gives us. After all, Hollywood takes real-life characters who are Asian (21), Spanish (The Impossible), or Latino (Argo) and turns them white; it doesn't take someone of unclear ethnicity and turn them black. I doubt that color-blind casting contributed to the film's modest American commercial reception, as the subtitles seem a more likely culprit. It has only been the rare foreign language film to earn hit status in the United States.

Those that have, like Life is Beautiful, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Il Postino, typically went on to earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Not only did The Intouchables miss out on that, but it also failed to earn a more attainable nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category. This, despite the facts that France has by far earned more nominations in that category than any other country, that The Intouchables had the backing of award darlings The Weinstein Company, and that this was the year's first film that had a screener sent out to Academy members, strategically kicking off the season in the second week of October.

Since Weinstein Company began partnering with Anchor Bay Entertainment, Intouchables is only the second Weinstein film to come to home video from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The first was The Artist, the mostly silent Best Picture winner that also hailed from France, suggesting that Anchor Bay's deal for some reason does not extend to imports beyond the UK. Why, I don't know, because like The Artist, this will charm almost everyone who sees it and any studio should want to have such a film among its holdings. Sony brings Intouchables to DVD and Blu-ray next Tuesday, with an UltraViolet stream included in each edition.

The Intouchables Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (French)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extra Subtitled in English
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($30.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Blu-ray treats The Intouchables to terrific picture and sound. The 1.85:1 element remains sharp, detailed, vibrant, and clean, while the 5.1 DTS-HD MA French soundtrack is crisp and vivacious throughout. Strangely, you'll need to select the English subtitles, as they do not appear by default.

Magalie (Audrey Fleurot) is momentarily impressed by Driss' poetic description of art in this deleted scene. Philippe (François Cluzet) enjoys a bit of auricular stimulation on the Blu-ray's menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

For such an international sensation, The Intouchables hits home video in the US with surprisingly little in the way of bonus features.

The only inclusion is five deleted scenes (5:35), which are presented in standard definition. They are fun but disposable moments, one involving a generous act Driss commits for his family, two of Driss and Philippe enjoying some dining, and one of Driss trying to impress the unimpressed Magalie (Audrey Fleurot).

The disc opens with an UltraViolet promo, followed by a mix of standard def Sony and Weinstein trailers advertising Robot & Frank, Playing for Keeps, A Dark Truth, Silver Linings Playbook, The Artist, and Now is Good. A Sneak Peeks section allows direct access to each of those trailers plus to option to play all. The Intouchables' own American and French trailers are inexcusably absent.

The menu loops a textured, otherwise ordinary montage of film clips and an excerpt of piano score. Resembling a Weinstein Blu-ray more than a Sony one, this one sadly fails to support bookmarks, resume playback, or immediately jump to the menu.

As usual, Sony houses the Blu-ray in a side-snapped keepcase whose translucency is exploited in double-sided artwork, which curiously hides the handicapped aspect and overstates America's wait to suggest built-up demand. The only insert supplies your unique UltraViolet redemption code and directions, while advertising other Sony/Weinstein Blu-rays on back.

Philippe (François Cluzet) and Driss (Omar Sy) make an amusingly inappropriate amount of noise at the start of a four-hour opera.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Feel-good comedies as good as The Intouchables are hard to come by. Funny, life-affirming, and just artful enough, this French production is sure to brighten the hopefully soon day on which you choose to see it. Sony's Blu-ray is a lightweight affair, but the feature presentation and the film both delight enough to warrant a look.

Buy The Intouchables from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
New: Holy MotorsUndefeatedThe MasterRobot & FrankSearching for Sugar ManLay the FavoriteSenseless
Omar Sy: Micmacs | Audrey Fleurot: Midnight in Paris
The Diving Bell and the ButterflyThe ChorusMy Big Fat Greek WeddingPlanes, Trains & AutomobilesMen in Black
TsotsiOf Gods and MenTrading PlacesDirty Pretty ThingsSpirited Away

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed February 25, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Quad Gaumont, TF1 Films, Ten Films, Chadcorp, 2012 The Weinstein Company,
and 2013 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.