Rating: 4 stars out of 5
The French sensation that's been sweeping the world all over off their feet has finally arrived and it really doesn't disappoint. Since its release, the film has won awards all over the world and broken many box office records, becoming the second highest grossing French film ever after ‘Amelie’.
The movie stars Omar Sy as Driss, a young reckless male and Francois Cluzet as Phillipe, a rich quadriplegic. Driss applies to be Phillipe's care giver with no intention of actually getting the job.
Instead, he's there to get his third refusal signature – which will entitle him to his benefit. Phillipe tells Driss to come back the next morning for it, however Driss surprisingly finds himself to be the candidate chosen for a trial period of the live-in caretaker job. That's the basic gist of it and then the two proceed to teach each other a thing or two about living. It's not the world's most complex plot, but it gets the job done.
It's a little reminiscent of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’, but as that was set in the 1940s instead when segregation was quite rampant; this on the other hand doesn't have as much of a racial focus. Instead of focusing on labels, it's really about how camaraderie and a little support from someone can motivate a person to change the way one lives.
The film's script is a real crowd pleaser. The jokes and gags between Driss and Philippe are constantly laugh-inducing throughout the movie, right until the end. The two completely different characters share great rapport on screen and that makes for some really funny interactions between the pair.
The clash of cultures between Driss' street smart ways and Philippe's arty farty aristocrat manners easily make for some of the most hilarious scenes you'll see this year. But it's not just fun and games between the two of them either, Philippe has a tragic past involving his wife and Driss has had his own run-ins with the law as well as a distant family.
The two of them unwittingly need the other to make themselves complete, Philippe teaches Driss the value of hard honest work and Driss teaches Philippe how to cut loose from his boring life.
Not only that, he also treats Philippe as an equal, not as a victim of pity or compassion, which is exactly what Philippe needs to figuratively get on his feet.
It's funny and a rather heart-warming inside, which may have turned out really corny in the hands of any other director, but the team of Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano have handled this beautifully, allowing the two big opposing personalities of the main characters to take certain stage and drive the narrative.
The cynical and the weary may find the story predictable and a little too sentimental, but really, it's quite hard to do that unless you're a really cynical person with a tin can for a heart. The film is a special blend of all-around pleasantness that also possesses heartfelt and sincere leading performances from its actors.
The fact that it's based on a true story doesn't hurt it. Detractors will point out the lack of originality or subtleness but for two good hours, we had an awesome time soaking in the humour, pranks and all the slight welling up of the eyes.
It's just a package that's too slick and sweet that most will find irresistible. This crackling French comedy proves that unlike its name would suggest, it really is quite touchable with audiences.