Skip to main content

Guest Review: George On Untouchable

James A. George On Untouchable

Last year this was the second biggest box office success in France ever and voted the cultural event of 2011 in France with 52% of the votes in a poll. Untouchable is a rare laugh-ou- loud gem among the predictably crude Hollywood comedies this year (and years past).  Francois Cluzet (my personal favourite contemporary French actor) plays Philippe, quadriplegic busy millionaire businessman that loves classical music and visits to the opera but under his hard shell is very lonely. He takes on Driss, played by comedian Omar Sy, as his new carer, due to the young man’s lack of compassion and sympathy. Driss is impulsive, flirtatious, weed-smoking and loves dancing to Kool & the Gang. The stereotypes are ripe throughout and the cold, dull cinematography of Driss’ flat compared to the lavish home of Philippe shines colourfully, ultimately however it never crosses into offensive territory and remains just problematic comedic formula.

The familiar buddy movie formula follows the typically crafted structure; the two men learn from one another, become friends, face struggles within themselves and their environment. What makes this version fresh is the way they bond, via marijuana and deliberately starting police chases to name a couple of incidents. Among the somewhat ignored socioeconomic inequalities and clich├ęd events are these two central performances that really make this movie gold. I completely believed in the acting and felt like I was witnessing a deep, genuine connection. It is in what is not said as much as what is said, and I feel this subtlety is what some American critics have missed, and perhaps what made it so popular with the French. It avoids sentimentally and hits truer emotional notes in the process.

I was lucky enough to see this on French DVD months back but from merely writing my thoughts on the film I have decided I must see this in cinemas here before a shameful Hollywood remake appears (which is already in the works). It may have some cinema textbook flaws but with such compelling performances and fine dialogue it often transcends the rigid story we’ve seen over and over. Untouchable is probably the most feel-good film this year, and more so when during the credits we see photos of real-life quadriplegic Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his carer Abdel Sellou. Not just a fairytale.

Untouchable opens Friday in UK cinemas.


Tomas said…
I only heard about this film a week or so ago. Reminds of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but more along the lines of The Diving Bell and the Black Guy. I'll definitely give it a watch when it comes to the UK.

Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…


Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand


With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.