As a writer, you aren’t supposed to say you’re at a loss for words. But here I am telling you just that. This film leaves me speechless and when you watch you’ll know what I mean. It has easily become my favorite foreign film, if not favorite film across the board.
What is so brilliant about it, is not just that it’s based on a true story but the actors chosen bring so much charisma to the screen. Senegalese actor Omar Sly won the French Oscar for his potrayal of an ex-con (Driss) hired to care for Phillipe (François Cluzet), a rich quadriplegic widower. The Intouchables came out in 2011 and became the second most successful French film of all time. What I love most probably is the truth of this film. A paraplegic’s life and the problems and questions that come with it, are addressed throughout the film, including sex, when other sources of pleasures are revealed. Once again, life is filled with laughter, for both parties, and the aristocratic Philippe becomes a willing participant, no longer an observer of his own life.
It all begins becuase Driss goes for an interview to be a caretaker. He goes because he believes he will never get the job. In Europe, if you are on unemployment, you need to go to interviews and get three job rejections before you can receive your benefits. The system is arranged so that you have to go on job interviews. Driss finds this as an easy out, so he can keep getting his money without having to do any work. Unexpectedly, he gets hired and it turns out he’s not too bad at it.
To be fair, the plot is straight out of a Hollywood playbook. Somehow though, it ends up being something new and entirely different. The Intouchables was a box office hit for a reason. It has heart, comedy, soul, drama and love. It’s a feel-good film and one worth watching. From the opening scene, you are lured into a relationship between two characters that you simply must know more about. The directors, Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano should be commended for their brilliant work in portraying two complex human beings.
In honor of this beautiful film, I made a Brie and Apple Tartine; a French open-faced sandwich usually with a rich or fancy spread. This is simple, delicious and the perfect pairing to this film.
Focaccia or Sourdough Bread
I used Trader Joe’s Sourdough for these but any rustic bread will do.
Toast the bread for a good five to ten minutes in the oven, 350 degrees. Once it’s nice and a bit golden, take your Brie and slice it into chunky bits to spread across the toast. I removed the rind first, as I don’t care too much for the texture when eating it in this way.
Spread it across the bread and place it back in the oven for a good five minutes.
In the meantime, slice your apples. Removing the skin is a personal preference, for this dish, I didn’t. Slice them into halves and remove the bread from the oven. Place a few thin slices onto the toast. By this time, the cheese should be melted. Place the bread back into the oven for five minutes more so the apples warm up but be cautious not to leave them in too long or else they will dry out a bit. If your walnuts aren’t already toasted, those can go in the oven in a piece of aluminium foil so they get a bit toasted. I left mine in for about ten minutes.
Sprinkle the walnuts (or pecans) on top of your tartine. Add honey if you wish; it is a nice addition.
Pair with this film and a nice glass of white wine, preferably from Bourdeaux. Indulge and enjoy!