...and, well, that's entirely by design. The Intouchables wants you to fall for it. Despite its premise of a quadriplegic and the intense bond he forms with his unlikely anchor to the world at large, The Intouchables bears less of a resemblance to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly than it does to, say, When Harry Met Sally. François Cluzet stars as Philippe, a cantankerous and fabulously wealthy invalid who's suffering through another round of interviews with potential live-in caretakers. They're wormy and milquetoast all, and no one he'd hire would last more than a few weeks anyway. Philippe takes a rare shine to Driss (Omar Sy), a Senegalese ex-con who barges in for an interview he couldn't give less of a damn about, only there to pretend he's looking for a job and to keep those welfare checks rolling in. Deprived of his own strength and vivacity, Philippe is fascinated by how alive Driss is, and he appreciates finally being looked at as something other than a deep-pocketed China doll. On their own, neither Driss nor Philippe had much of anything you could rightly call a life, but together...?
Despite swirling around a depressed quadriplegic and a recently released convict, the beats of The Intouchables' story have been torn right out of a romantic comedy, from their meet-cute to their initial fascination-slash-disgust to the intensely close friendship that gradually forms to the obligatory break-up-to-make-up to the sugary, inevitable reunion once the climax rolls around. There are all sorts of bug-eyed fish-out-of-water moments when these two opposites collide, such as Driss introducing Philippe's society "friends" to Earth, Wind, and Fire or this impoverished immigrant finally getting a taste of the fancy bathtub he'd been daydreaming about. Looking at The Intouchables from a 20,000 foot view, the overall premise is standard issue, there really aren't any unexpected left turns on the menu, and the film doesn't hide the fact that it's calculatedly and aggressively tugging on your heartstrings.
If all of that sounds as if I'm gearing up for a brutal pan, that's really not the case. Is The Intouchables kind of predictable and manipulative? Sure, but this is also an astonishingly fun flick. Calculated with precision though its emotions may be, they still manage to come through as so sincere that it's borderline-impossible not to get swept away. Cluzet and Sy radiate an irresistable charm, and the friendship between them seems so unmistakably real
This Blu-ray release of The Intouchables is spectacularly crisp and detailed, retaining the warmth and pleasantly filmic texture of its 35mm photography. No heavy-handed noise reduction or artificial sharpening threaten to intrude, contrast remains robust throughout, and the AVC encode never once sputters or stutters. As the presentation on this disc has presumably been culled from the digital intermediate, it really ought to go without saying that no speckling or wear gets in the way. I can't say I'm left with much of anything to grouse about here -- an expectedly terrific effort.
The Intouchables arrives on a single layer Blu-ray disc at its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
Presented exclusively in its original French, The Intouchables sounds every bit as good as it looks as well. Where this 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack particularly excels is its reproduction of music. From the punchy kick drum to Earth, Wind, and Fire's "September" that plays over the opening titles to Philippe putting a very accommodating orchestra through its paces, the fidelity and clarity showcased here really highlight what lossless audio has to offer. Although The Intouchables is very much a dialogue-driven film, a few sequences take full advantage of the surround channels, such as a night at the opera and the seamless pans througout a breakneck car chase. Dialogue is consistently rendered cleanly and clearly, with every last line reading balanced perfectly in the mix.
There are no dubs, alternate mixes, or audio commentaries. English subtitles are enabled by default, and SDH and Spanish subs are also there if you need them.
Also included is a code for an UltraViolet digital copy.
The Final Word
There's a nagging, cynical voice grumbling somewhere in the back of my head about its calculated sentimentality, the overly familiar broad strokes of its premise, and such uninspired moments as a small army of septuagenarians wiggling their butts to "Boogie Wonderland". The rest of me, though...? Hopelessly charmed by The Intouchables. There's far more depth and complexity to Philippe, Driss, and the bond that forms between them than "Rich Stuffed Shirt and Dude from the Wrong Side of the Tracks Learn About Life from Each Other". The Intouchables lives and dies by the strength of its performances. François Cluzet and Omar Sy seize hold of what could've been a competent take on a fairly routine story and elevate it instead into something so much more remarkable. Recommended.