Untouchable and un-missable. It’s based on the true story of a friendship between a paraplegic French millionaire (Francois Cluzet) and his Senegalese-born carer (Omar Sy). It’s funny, that means Laugh Out Loud, and it was one of those rare films that I just wished would never end. I could have happily lived in the cinema forever, given a sufficient supply of Ben and Jerry’s.
There are all types of feel good movies. There are the ones that feel-good from the start. They are a bit cheesy. And then there are the ones where you know feel-good is coming but it takes an eternity and then it’s all over. But this film is neither. It sort of bubbles along with enough feel-good that you want it to go on forever, but enough tension to keep your knuckles clenched as you wait for the comedy to all go horribly wrong at any moment.
The stereotypical rich solitary white man, lover of art and classical music, is forced up against the poor gregarious black man with a love of Earth Wind and Fire. If it were made up, then it could rightly be accused of all sorts of class and race condescension. But it’s based on a true story between quadriplegic millionaire Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and Abdel Sellou, a young ex-con of North-African origin who grew up in the poor suburbs of Paris.
Have their differences been exaggerated for the sake of humour? Not according to the actor Omar Sy, whose own experiences were drawn on heavily. He grew up in the same area and says that if anything he was more rough-edged than the young man in the movie. But the film is about getting past who we ‘are’ in physical and economic terms, and discovering that whatever our starting point. The message is that our outlook on the world is a potent force that can overcome almost any handicap.
No wonder it’s the most watched French film of all time.