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Sometimes you have to reach into someone else’s world to find out what’s missing in your own. 

Year: 2011 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano 
Starring: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny  
An image from Untouchable

Driss (Omar Sy) is—on appearance— a stereotypical hoodlum from the ghetto, with an animated love for life and the fruit it bears; Phillipe (Francois Cluzet) is a millionaire paraplegic, a romantic and melancholy soul trapped in a useless body. The circumstances that bring them together are essentially tragic, yet are appropriately contrasted by the light and humorous nature of their unlikely friendship.

The simple beauty of Untouchable lies in its ability to deal with sentimental and sensitive issues such as race, social hierarchy, disability, and the true meaning of life in a light-hearted manner that is accessible to all. Sy is naturally able to fuse comedy into what ought to be tense and dramatic scenes, effortlessly diffusing the serious elements of this story. Their cultural clash is the main comedic drive, while the harmonious understanding established between them is the grounding and genuine substance that allows the story to be so moving. Sy and Cluzet’s onscreen relationship is extremely touching and honest, and for that alone, the film deserves its sudden storming of the international film industry.

Full of ambience and charm, the soundtrack is an integral part of the story, for it defines the warmth that accompanies love and acceptance in a cold and unforgiving world; it’s the welcome stillness in the midst of emotional turmoil. Coupled with a character-driven plot, the musical selection adds another subtle layer to the story, demolishing any potential for it to fall into the worn-out cliché category.

On paper, this review does no justice to the film. It’s hilarious just as it is honest and simple in its reminder that life is always worth living to the full.

Fatima Hammad

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Screenings of this film:

2012/2013 Spring Term (digital)
2017/2018 Spring Term (digital)
2022/2023 Spring Term (35mm)