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REVIEW: 'The Intouchables'

REVIEW: 'The Intouchables'

REVIEW: 'The Intouchables', Flicks.co.nz

3 stars

Award-winning, feel-good French drama about the friendship that develops between an aristocrat - a quadriplegic after a recent paragliding accident - and a man from the projects hired to be his caretaker. Based on a true story. In Cinemas October 25.

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Based on a true story, but sticking close to the Hollywood archetype, this award-winning French comedy-drama was nominated for a ton of Cesar awards (the French Oscars) and it's not hard to see why. When paraplegic toff Philipe (Francois Cluzet from Tell No One) takes on Senegalese chancer Driss (Omar Sy, who won Best Actor) as his nurse - over many better-qualified candidates -cultures clash, lessons are learned and unlikely friendships are forged.

Driss is irresponsible but free; Philipe is refined but confined to his wheelchair. The former likes Earth, Wind and Fire; the latter prefers Berlioz. One tries to hump everything that moves; the other writes letters of romantic longing to women he will never meet. These differences are mostly played out in amiable montages – there's even a dance-off, of sorts – but just because you can see where the film's heading, doesn't mean you won't enjoy the journey.

The interplay between the two leads is, at first, convincingly barbed – “Have you ever considered a job as a beautician,” Philipe teases his alpha-male assistant, as Driss begrudgingly dresses him – and there are lots of funny lines (“Take a hike, Justin Bieber!” Driss tells a spotty teen). Soon they're best buddies, of course, but both actors give such appealing performances the spark of affection growing between them seems genuine. Though it amounts to little more than The Fresh Prince Of Belle France, the cliches are so skillfully navigated only the heartless will fail to be charmed.

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