music friday: rock and roll hall of fame part 1
returning to the weather underground (sam green and bill siegel, 2002)

the intouchables (olivier nakache and éric toledano, 2011)

The Intouchables is the kind of film I normally hate, so Nakache and Toledano deserve some credit simply because I liked this movie. It's the uplifting story of a quadriplegic and his new caretaker. It's a heartwarming story as they tell it ... that's the part I normally don't like ... and I'm not entirely sure why I went with it. The acting helps ... François Cluzet as the quadriplegic does a lot with his part despite not being able to move anything but his head and face, while Omar Sy is entertaining as the caregiver. You don't want to think too hard about the relationship between the two. Sy is black, but this seems to be irrelevant, perhaps because the film makers want to foreground the positive, so we're never asked to consider whether his blackness might complicate the way the two work together (more than one critic compared it to Driving Miss Daisy). It's clear that we're headed for a happy ending, and The Intouchables becomes something the whole family can enjoy, even a curmudgeon like me. It touches a chord for a lot of people, having set box office records all over the world.

But compare The Intouchables to a movie like Amour. That film, which also dealt with caretaking, was unrelentingly depressing. Both characters are in their 80s, and the invalid has a stroke that leaves her mostly unable to communicate. Michael Haneke, who wrote and directed Amour, did not make a "comedy-drama". Amour is so dark, I can't imagine wanting to watch it again. But Haneke was up to something beyond entertaining the mainstream audience, and Amour sticks with me in ways I don't think The Intouchables will ever approach. The Intouchables was pleasant enough, but I won't be surprised if a year from now, I forget I saw it. (Although I tend to remember any time I see Audrey Fleurot.)


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