Thursday 8 November 2012

2011 film: 'UNTOUCHABLE'

This has been a massive domestic hit in its native France, and it was surely that which had given me high expectations.
    Not only is it the second successive film I've seen which is French but both films concern a chalk-and-cheese friendship between a wheelchair-bound individual and an unlikely helper. I'm not qualified to say which was the 'superior' film (if one can make such an absolutist value-judgment) but I know that I thought that this was better 'entertainment' than 'Rust and Bone' - though I do have reservations in making that claim.

   Out of an array of applicants for the post, a wealthy quadripligic, with high-brow tastes in art and music, chooses a street-wise, clownish, dope-smoking, rather rebellious job-seeker (who's also into 'Earth Wind and Fire' big time!) as his live-in assistant/helper/nurse. Although one can guess, early on, the trajectory arc this film will follow, it ought to be said that it purports to be based on a true story. In fact, at the film's close we actually see, for a few seconds, the real-life couple at the heart of the story.

At the very well-attended showing I went to at 11 o'clock this morning, there were raucous laughs from the audience at the helper character's antics almost from the word 'go'. I didn't think it was that funny. (Maybe the audience was playing up to its own expectations?). In fact I very soon found the character just plain annoying. Truth to tell, it took practically the first half of the film before I warmed to it at all.
   I did find his expoundings on classical music amusing - and his visit to the opera was genuinely very funny - as were some of his gauchely direct and tactless approaches to one or two of the women employed in the man's home. On the other side I was irritated at being shown the man's face so often trying to contain his laughter, as though we were being told "It's okay to laugh at this." I think that particular point was overdone.

I can just about see why it was such a success in France. It might be termed a 'feel-good' feature, and there's nothing wrong with that.
But when I balance up what were for me the good points against its negatives I cannot award 'Untouchable' more than.......................6/10. 


  1. I used to work with patients with spinal injuries...and am well versed with the care of someone with paralysis from the neck down.
    so this film is one I want to see..... I have not made the effort...a fact that I found interesting.
    I will comment here when I see it

    1. Please do, J.G. I look forward to it - and am always particularly keen to read opinions that vary with mine, and with your own experience it should be extra-interesting.

    2. On reflection the story about the disability was just a side line. After all phillipe had adjusted very well to his life in a wheelchair.
      The story was really just an essay on friendship and the importance of acceptance within that sort of relationship

  2. Very disappointed that you were not able to give this film a higher rating. I found it very enjoyable.What impressed me the most was how both actors succeeded in making their characters and the complex relationship they shared completely believable.

    Now, I am going out on a limb and recommend a brilliant film with amazing acting that I have just seen: "A Late Quartet." The movie stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christopher Walken, who over the past few years, has gotten completely weird. But his acting in one of the first scenes, which is the catalytic event that changes everything, you know that Hoffman is going to compete heavily with Walken in the acting department. Do so hope you get to see this one.

    1. Although I haven't mentioned it above, Paul, your expected reaction to my review was actually uppermost in my mind as I wrote it- as it also was, in fact, while viewing the film. It's no surprise that you're disappointed I'm not able to give it the thumbs up, but there you are. I'd honestly like to have liked it as much as you did, but there's no point in pretending. One of our relatively seldom divergences of view.

      I haven't heard of 'The Late Quartet' but if it comes here I certainly SHALL be watching it. For a few seconds I thought you might be talking about the new Dustin Hoffman-directed 'Quartet' (which hasn't been released here yet) - a confusion of the name of Hoffman.
      You're having mentioned Philip Seymour H., I can say that I'll be seeing 'The Master' at the end of this month, which has got some decidedly lukewarm reviews here. Sounds like a peculiar film ("Absolutely NOT based on L.Ron Hubbard!" The over-emphatic denial tells its own story.) - as well as being a whopping 2.5 hours long, or very nearly - so I do hope it holds my attention. But the said P.S.H. has never given a less than worthwhile performance, even in the dire (to me) 'The Boat That Rocked'.

      I might also tell mention that next month the single-screen art-house cinema in Brighton, where I see most of my films, starts operating an additional two screens in another building, a comedy theatre for stand-up comedians, with the advantage to me of being far nearer the bus stop where I alight, having to walk more than a further mile to get to the cinema.
      If they also show cheap matinees, both mornings and early afternoons, as does the 'parent' organisation, I'll be going even more frequently, my only limiting factor then being the additional cost involved. We'll see how they plan to do things, but it's looking quite exciting.

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