It’s film review time! Although I love and review films, I find that I’m just not emotionally up to coping with anything dealing directly with disability without becoming a total mess. However, I am lucky enough to know people that both have good taste in films and are made of sterner stuff. Today’s post is a review of Untouchable, a film about the relationship between a man and his carer. The review is by Emily Dongray, whose bio follows the review, if there are any other budding film reviewers out there, do let me know.
Quintessentially an odd couple movie, with a root in the real life story of Phillipe and his carer Abdel, it’s a film well worthy of the praise it’s received. It pairs a white man with a black man, rich with poor, but it takes it a step further and explores the friendship between able-bodied and paraplegic, blurring the lines between carer and friend.
It’s well structured to slowly reveal the day to day differences of paraplegic life, and does so with a healthy dose of signature French humour. It invites the viewer to laugh at the disabled Philipe falling out of his chair, his carer, Driss, getting food in his eye because he’s watching girls; it’s funny, but never unsympathetic. Like other films with a disability theme it turns an eye on the sexual experiences of those in this different situation, and it shows that, like any other sexuality, there is a broad spectrum of possibilities. And that dating is much like anyone’s experience; scary and with unknown respnsibilities.
It dips a tentative toe into some of the mental anguish that comes with being dealt this hand in life, and it compares and contrasts it to the fears and worries felt by those dealt other hands; specifically pitting the carers socioeconomic disadvantages and complicated family situation against the past tragedies and ongoing struggles of the disabled but affluent caree. It’s message being that we are all perceiving life from a single perspective, but that we have more in common with each other than not.
While we’ve seen these aspects before, the film was nominated for a Golden Globe because of what makes it unique. Untouchable’s bold position is that having an able body doesn’t not make us free. Freedom to love, take risks, interact with people, these don’t necessarily (and I stress necessarily) come from the limitations set by our bodies. It’s affirming without being saccharine. It evokes honest laughs without the usual French slapstick. Omar Sy (Driss) is magnetic and dynamic to watch, and Cluzet (Phillipe), gives a wonderfully subtle performance, especially given the physical limitations of the role. Overall making this more than a splendid treatment of the issues, but a fun film with meaning to boot.
Emily Dongray is a mother, DJ, film nerd, and, importantly, one of the people who saves you from witnessing many of the truly awful spelling errors that exist in early versions of blog posts.