At first glance, disability might seem a strange topic for a comedy – but actually some of the most uplifting and life-affirming films have tragedy at their heart.
One of my all-time favourite films is The Sea Inside, which features Javier Bardem in the leading role as a quadriplegic fighting for his right to die. The Canadian film, The Barbarian Invasions, is another comic drama about a dying man. The ‘her’ in Pedro Almodovar’s brilliant Talk With Her (Hable Con Ella) is comatose for almost the entire film.
So The Intouchables (which, like The Sea Inside is based on a true story) is hardly breaking new ground.
It is the story of the relationship between a millionaire quadriplegic (Philippe) confined to a wheelchair by a paragliding accident and his carer, an ex-con (Driss) who only came to the job interview so he could continue to claim his unemployment benefits.
A huge hit in France, it has attracted some criticism outside for seeming to make light of the main character’s disability, but the best response to that comes from Philippe himself in the film.
In response to his brother’s warnings against hiring Driss – “These people, these street people, they have no pity.” - Philippe responds: “That’s what I want... No pity.”
I really enjoyed this film. In fact, if you take it on its own terms (and on Philippe’s terms) I defy you not to enjoy it.
It may not be the most demanding of films, but that’s okay. You don’t have to lose your sense of humour when you lose movement in your limbs...