The Intouchables



Sweet French drama about unlikely friendship has some edge.
  • Review Date: September 13, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Intouchables offers valuable reminders about how you can't assume anything about anyone regardless of their wealth, education, or physical abilities. Philippe and Driss' trusting, open relationship proves that race, status, and disability don't have to be obstacles to understanding and unconditional friendship. Disability also doesn't have to stop a person from finding love.

Positive role models

Even though they're employer and employee and of different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, Philippe and Driss grow to respect and love each other, and each changes the other. Their odd-couple relationship transcends superficial differences and becomes based on their mutual ability to see beyond what others see in them.


Driss intimidates a couple of guys (one of them a teen) by shoving them against a wall and getting in their face. The police -- with guns drawn -- handcuff and act rough with Driss until they notice Philippe in the car. Driss' younger brother is under a drug dealer's thumb. An older woman slaps a younger man. At one point, Philippe, a quadriplegic, looks like he's in distress and even about to die.


A man shamelessly flirts with and propositions an uninterested woman, who sometimes plays along by unbuttoning her top a few buttons while the man disrobes down to his underwear. Bikini-clad "massage therapists" (prostitutes) have to be told not try to go below the waist. Teenagers make out until they're interrupted. A woman who's revealed to be a lesbian suggests a "threesome" but is doing it as a joke. 


The movie is subtitled, so only French speakers will understand the spoken curse words. But in the subtitles, there are about 10 uses of "f--k" and even more of "s--t," as well as "a--hole," "ass," and insults like "moron," "idiot, " "insane," "jerk," "crazy," and the occasional religious exclamation.


A Maserati is prominently featured and driven. An iPod makes an appearance in a couple of scenes, as does a Kangol hat.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The movie takes place in France, where smoking cigarettes is still very common. Several characters smoke them, and adults are also shown smoking marijuana. Wine and cocktails are shown at every meal or party, and a teen girl purposely combines anti-diarrhea medication with painkillers after she's dumped (she's OK, though). A sick man takes many prescription drugs and uses pot to help with his appetite. A teen boy is arrested for marijuana possession.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Intouchables is an award-winning French drama based on the true story of a wealthy quadriplegic and his down-and-out personal aide. Like most odd-couple stories, the drama includes worthwhile lessons about friendship being deeper than the superficial differences that divide people (in this case, race, wealth, education, and physical ability). It's subtitled, but there are about 10 translated uses of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "a--hole," and other insults. There are several references to sex, an ongoing comedic flirtation between a man and an uninterested woman, and plenty of cigarettes, wine, and even some marijuana -- used both medicinally and for leisure.

What's the story?

The award-winning French drama THE INTOUCHABLES is about a rich, white Parisian quadriplegic who hires a black ex-con as his live-in personal assistant. Loosely based on a true story, the story follows how paralyzed aristocrat Philippe (Francois Cluzet) gives down-and-out petty criminal Driss (Omar Sy) a chance to be his health aide, even though there are many more qualified applicants. At first, Driss is skeptical and even disgusted by some of his responsibilities (like bathroom duty), but soon enough the two very different men come to understand and respect each other -- and help each other above and beyond any employer-employee dynamic.

Is it any good?


As unlikely friendships in movies go, the one between Philippe and Driss is purely on the sweet and inspiring side. There's nothing all that complicated about their alliance. Wealthy Philippe and street Driss understand each other and can teach other the respective importance of Beethoven and Earth, Wind and Fire. Though Philippe can't drive, Driss can use his legs to drive Philippe's Maserati fast and furious, providing a thrill that Philippe thought he'd never feel again.

Although deeper issues about the socio-economic divisions that separate Philippe and Driss aren't substantively explored, The Intouchables is a fantastically acted, surprisingly funny film. It's obvious what Driss gets from being Philippe's aide (a steady income, a ridiculously beautiful place to live, and all the other luxuries that being part of Philippe's household staff offers). But it's equally obvious how Philippe benefits from the relationship: He gets a sense of spontaneity, a lust for life, and a companion without pity. It's no wonder why France selected the feel-good movie as its 2012 submission to the Academy Awards for best foreign language film.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what The Intouchables teaches about disability. Why was Philippe happier with Driss as an aide than the other, more objectively qualified assistants? How did Driss treat Philippe differently than the others?

  • Some critics have said the story dismisses any deep exploration of the differences (particularly race and class) between the two men. Do you agree?

  • How does the movie portray smoking? How is it different in that regard than an American movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 25, 2012
DVD release date:January 15, 2013
Cast:Audrey Fleurot, François Cluzet, Omar Sy
Directors:Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache
Studio:Weinstein Co.
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some drug use

This review of The Intouchables was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 August 8, 2013

"Blind Side"-esque but charming

I realize this is a true story and they are simply adapting the facts, but that doesn't stop this film from being wholly predictable. I loved the paragliding shots, and for sure the chemistry between Sy and Cluzet is dynamic, you get the sense that they're the only ones who truly get each other at times. It's also bitingly funny in that European way. I hope they never remake it, this movie has flaws for sure but it's charm is inimitable.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent Written byMarine Musaelian May 4, 2014

Really cool movie

This movie is awesome because driss is kinfd o asneaky man and I like sneaky oh this movie is just kind and it is good fir people to watch
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Teen, 15 years old Written byMr Blonde January 28, 2014


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