The Intouchables Movie Meaning & Plot Summary

Duet of an aristocrat and a marginal: what is the magic of the film The Intouchables. The plot and meaning of the film The Intouchables, an explanation of the ending, actors

Country: France

Genre: biography, comedy, drama

Year of production: 2011

Directed by: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano

Cast: Omar Sy, Francois Cluzet, Audrey Fleureau, Anne Le Ni

The French tragicomedy, called in the original: “Intouchables” – “The Untouchables”, unexpectedly for many movie connoisseurs, received a huge amount of positive reviews and in ten years has become almost a living classic. Let’s do an analysis and find out what is the meaning of the film The Intouchables and why the audience liked it so much.

What is the movie about

Philippe, a wealthy representative of the French aristocracy, became disabled after an unsuccessful paragliding flight. His body below his head is completely paralyzed. He is looking for a helper who would look after him, but would not feel pity at the same time – someone who does not look like a typical nurse.

film frame

Film frame

For such a role, it seems to Philip, the black marginal Driss is ideally suited. He does not have good manners, is rude, tactless. What’s more, Driss has recently been released from prison and is not at all interested in the job. The meaning of the search for her is that he simply collects refusals from employers to receive benefits. Upon learning of Philip’s illness, the “applicant” does not change his face and continues to behave as usual – boldly and uninhibitedly. This bribes the rich man and Driss still gets the job.

Driss, despite his complete incompetence as a nurse, gradually masters and brings into Philip’s life what he so wanted: a little chaos, spontaneity, adventure, an easy attitude to illness and, in general, to any problems. A black man from Senegal turns out to be a good man. A real friendship develops between him and Philip.

Driss helps to establish Philip’s personal life. Upon learning that the latter has been in correspondence with a woman for six months, but does not gather up the courage to meet her, Driss pushes his friend to take decisive action. Despite the fear and resistance of Philip, at the end he even organizes a meeting of lovers in absentia.

Driss himself is also changing quite a lot: thanks to Philip, he becomes more cultured, reserved, establishes a connection with his family.

Real prototypes

Interestingly, the plot of the film The Intouchables is inspired by a real friendship between the representative of the ancient noble French family of Di Pozzo, the rich man Philip (before writing the script, the authors met with him) and a native of Algeria, a former prisoner Cellu Abdel.

Each of them wrote their own book about it. The real events are similar to those that take place in the movie The Intouchables, but in many ways they are still different. For example, the personality of the prototype Driss before his friendship with Philip is described as much more cruel and unprincipled than is shown in the movie.

Prototypes of the main characters

The prototypes of the main characters are Di Pozzo and Abdel. Photo guiadasemana.com.br

In real life, compared to the film, the relationship between Philip and his wife, who had cancer and then died, occupied a greater place. Sell ​​Abdel also had to look after her and save a friend from depression after her tragic death.

Actors and roles

In the film The Intouchables the authors replaced the Arab Sella Abdel with a black Driss. The role of the latter was played by Omar Sy. Critics and ordinary viewers in reviews note his excellent work and chemistry with the performer of the second main role, Francois Cluzet, without which the film would hardly have turned out as successful.

film frame

Frame from the film.

Both actors, even before The Intouchables, were the stars of French cinema, after the release of the picture, their fame increased many times over. The film with a local flavor was remaked in the US and Argentina, in which the roles of the rich man and his friend were played by other people, but the success of the original was out of reach.

Plot transcript

It is hardly necessary to explain in order to convey the basic meaning of the feature film The Intouchables. This movie is about the power of friendship and love, about how one person can change another for the better. However, most likely, the film would not have been such a success if it did not have additional subtext, hidden meaning. There are already too many tapes on a similar topic, shot no less talentedly, but at the same time not achieving the same high results.

It’s worth starting with the original title of the film – “The Untouchables”. There is a reasonable explanation for its transformation into The Intouchables, because in the same year, 2011, the French crime drama “Les Luonnais”, already named, was released on the screens.

However, the name “The Untouchables” immediately gives an accurate description of both the main characters of the film. The untouchables are the lowest and poorest caste in India, whose members live in terrible conditions and are still persecuted and bullied by the more privileged sections of the population.

On the other hand, the rich from high society can also be called untouchable, or inviolable. They are at the pinnacle of success, they have money, power and almost every material wealth that one could wish for. It is almost impossible to become a part of this society if you are from a different circle. Given that the action takes place in France and it is not about specific groups of people, but rather about their way of life, the main characters of the film The Intouchables are representatives of these two estates.

The authors were faced with the task of opposing two worlds to each other. In cinema, as in a work of art, this is easier to do with the help of the “black-white” contrast (which does not always mean “bad-good” – at least not in this case).

That is why the authors changed the canonical Arab to a black native of Senegal. In some moments, this opposition is presented directly, in the forehead. For example, in the scene when Driss enters the snow-white bathroom in Philip’s house. The soundtrack is also indicative: “Ave Maria”. The directors make it clear: a person from the very bottom of society is literally stepping into the territory of the celestials.

Film frameFilm frame

The world of Driss is a world of crime and everyday disorder among the slums. Philip’s world personifies a jaded Europe, looking at the rest of the world as if from above. His passion for paragliding, wealth, views instilled since childhood, and even his paralysis (as a symbol of stagnation and incomprehension of what to do next) play in favor of this allegory.

There is a clash – this has happened to the Old World in recent decades, when refugees become its new inhabitants, and the native Europeans do not know how to behave with these people. Their dismay is similar to the reaction of Philip himself, his relatives and workers to the antics of Driss.

Such a collision in life may well lead to disaster, but in the end of the film, on the contrary, something new and beautiful is born. Everyone finds their own happiness. The whole idea of ​​the picture is expressed by its official slogan: “Sometimes you need to penetrate into a strange world in order to understand what is missing in your own.”

film frame

Frame from the film.

The fact that this meaning was conveyed without distortion is a great merit of the directors and the real Philippe Di Pozzo. The latter insisted that the emphasis should not be on drama, but on comedy. At the same time, although there are a couple of vulgar episodes in the film, the humorous component cannot be called sharp. Everything is served easily and, most importantly, with kindness.

If the authors had tried to screen real events exactly, there would have obviously been more dramatic moments. There is a sense of proportion throughout the material. The shortage of such films also played in favor of the creators of The Intouchables

The meaning of the ending

The very beginning repeats the ending of the film The Intouchables. The episode with the return of Driss is duplicated in the finale, where we see the police chasing the main characters. Here Driss behaves, perhaps, no less defiantly than before. But we already know how he changed.

He is not alone – all the secondary characters have become a little better: the workers of Philip Yvon and Magally, and his adopted daughter Elissa with her boyfriend Marcel, and the unlucky nephew Driss Adama, and Aunt Fatu. The meaning of the ending of the film The Intouchables is conveyed through all these changes.

Driss returns the stolen Faberge egg (another proof of the transformation) and helps Philippe take what may be the most important step in his life – to finally meet his pen pal who will accept him for who he is.

Driss leaves. But he doesn’t leave his friend. He says: “I’ll be there” – and leaves, stepping on the white tiles of the embankment (also a completely conscious artistic device). Driss accepted a piece of the world of “celestials” and became something like a guardian angel for Philip. This is the end of the film and the beginning of a new stage for both characters, which is announced by the credits at the end, telling about the further happy family life of both characters.

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