Our host, Stefanie Alleyne meets up with today’s panelists: filmmaker and web content creator, Olu Gittens; editor and author, Valerie Petersen; and on-air personality and host, Yael Read; to discuss the very funny and sincere French film, “Intouchables,” at the cool downtown-vibed Tribeca cafe, Love Peace.
Based on a true story, the film, “Intouchables,” is written and directed by the super, successful French cinematic duo, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. The story follows an affluent Parisian quadriplegic, played by Francois Cluzet as Phillippe, who after becoming paralyzed during a hang gliding accident, is in need of replacing his 24 hour live-in caretaker. Much to the dismay of friends, family, and associates, he hires a young ex-con, played by Senegalese comedienne and actor, Omar Sy as Driss. Driss is not only not interested in employment, but is merely going through the motions required to maintain his state benefits in order to prevent himself from yet another stint in jail. Ultimately, through mishaps and adventures, the two men develop a deep bond and respect for one and other which transcends to a deep friendship that endures to this day.
Although the “Intouchables,” has become France’s second highest grossing film of all time, the critics and reviews on this side of the Atlantic have not all been as kind or fervent. One has gone as far as re-titling the film, “Driving Monsieur Daisy,” a defamatory title which references the 1989 American made film, “Driving Miss Daisy.” In it, Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman are employer and employee who develop a deep friendship and respect over many years starting in the late 40’s in the South. Then, there are those who have labeled the film this year’s male equivalent of “The Help.” It would be difficult for a movie of this nature not to reflect the racial and social disparity found in a post-colonial society such as France, but, one of the film’s strengths is that it does so much more. And, when you acquiesce to the reality that you are viewing aspects of two men’s lives, the story takes you on a truly inspiring and often hilarious journey about them. The humor and drama found here are perfectly balanced, and, at 113 minutes, the film ends on a perfect note. Leaving you wanting more, but feeling exhilarated and content (like a divine piece au chocolat).
Omar Sy, who plays Driss won a Cesar (French equivalent to an Oscar) for Best Actor in 2012 for his role here and the film has gone on to receive numerous international film awards and accolades. Rumor has it that Harvey Weinstein has bought the rights to do an American remake (three words…why? why? why?) with British actor, Idris Elba; and American faves Jamie Fox and Chris Rock all being considered for the role of Driss. Personally, I believe this original dish is best served on its authentic French platter. So, grab your beret, have a quick glass of fruity Chardonnay and get to the cinema rapide vite.
More About our Fabulous Panel
Valerie Peterson is an writer and filmmaker. Her narrative, comedic short, The Maid of Honor, was an Official Selection of the Sedona International Film Festival; her feature screenplay, a time-travel dramedy about Jane Austen’s love life, was recognized by Cinequest, The Austin Film Festival, More Magazine and The Big Apple Film Festival.
Learn more about Love Peace Cafe.
Find out more about today’s film, Intouchables.