The European film I have chosen for this review is called “Les Intouchables.” This is a French film directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano and released in 2011. The film explores life in Paris and the clash of the representatives of two different social classes. The main characters are Philippe, the rich man who is also quadriplegic, and his live-in caregiver Driss, a young man of African origin from the poor district of the city. The two men are absolutely different, yet they grow to have a great understanding of each other. They have lived very different lives, but they become good friends in the end. Out of many potential caregivers that come to the interview, Philippe chooses a simple guy, explaining to his friends that this is what he wanted – the guy who would not pity him (“Les Intouchables”).
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Driss brings some freshness to Philippe’s slow, monotonous, lonely, and limited life. At the same time, Philippe unconsciously teaches Driss about life, introduces him to new values and new experiences. Philippe is writing letters to a woman, who lives in the North of France in Dunkirk, yet he is afraid to tell her the truth about his disability or even send a photo. Driss helps Philippe become more open and empowers him to take a step towards the development of his relationship. At the end of the film, the caregiver secretly arranges a meeting for Philippe and his epistolary friend Eleonore.
The film characterizes France as a country with a big gap between social classes. The scenes in beautiful and luxurious locations that are common for Philippe are alternated with the scenes of the places where Driss and his family live. The differences between the two men’s values and the tastes of the two societies are very big. The lives of rich people are filled with museums, opera performances, elite gatherings, and meetings, while in poor districts, young people suffer from poverty, lack of opportunities to develop, unemployment, and criminal activities. This problem is raised in the film because France is not the only European country with such an issue. This economic gap between social classes is frequent all over the East and West of Europe and the world in general.
The sceneries and landscapes of the film are varied. Mainly the locations chosen for the film are the ones situated in the city. The characters are shown in their typical surroundings – the different parts of Paris. The final scene of “Les Intouchables” is happening at the seaside in a restaurant with a beautiful view of the shore and the sea. The name of the restaurant is “Cabourg.” Cabourg is a town on the coast of the English Channel. This place is not far away from both Dunkirk and Paris and is very picturesque and romantic – probably this is why Driss has chosen Cabourg to fix a date between Eleonore and Philippe. In the film, the beautiful scenery serves as a calming and peaceful emphasis on a happy ending and the start of a new life for all the main characters.
This film covers such topics as the geography of Europe, social classes, the differences between classes and social groups, nations, and of course, the dualism of identities. I was impressed by this film. It is philosophical, deep, and touching. It has both humorous and sad moments. The story is shown in “Les Intouchables” is based on real events. Driss and Philippe represent real people who became friends even though they came from absolutely different societies and had almost nothing in common. I certainly would recommend “Les Intouchables” to be watched in class.
Les Intouchables. Dir. Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano. Perf. Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy. Gaumont, 2011. Film.