Although The Intouchables is "based on a true story," the truth of it feels more emotional than literal: It's about Philippe (François Cluzet), a wealthy French quadriplegic who, against the wishes of his staff, hires Driss (Omar Sy), a handsome, uncouth Senegalese immigrant and petty criminal, as his personal caretaker.
Does Philippe hire Driss out of a sense of noblesse oblige, or because he, like Driss, has a rebellious streak? (Both men like to "piss on the world," each in his own way.) Co-writers/directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano keep it all rather sentimental, sociological, feel-good and superficial. (The "real" Driss is named Abdul Sellou, and he's Algerian and plain-looking.) It's Driving Miss Daisy meets My Fair Lady, emotionally satisfying and occasionally cloying, with a gentle wit and outstanding performances from its stars, especially the captivating Sy, who has a remarkable range.
"The guy wants 30 grand for a nosebleed?" Driss says as they look at a painting of red splotches on canvas. So yes, one's a little bit Vivaldi, and the other's passionately Kool and the Gang. But of course, they come to love and understand each other in the movie's almost-perfect world. In French, with subtitles.