When was the last time you saw a movie that was so good you didn’t want it to end?
This morning, I was utterly charmed by a French film called “The Intouchables.” When the ending came, I was in tears and didn’t want to move. I’d fallen in love with the two main characters and I wanted to somehow keep them in my life. Leaving the theater meant the relationship would end. So, I sat there watching the credits, swept away by the touching true story and the poignant way it is told by the writers and directors, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano.
The brilliant and handsome French actor François Cluzet (if you don’t see a lot of French film, you may recognize him from the U.S. film, “French Kiss” that starred Meg Ryan) plays Philippe. He is a man who has great wealth, evident from his posh home with a myriad of servants. What he doesn’t have, however, is mobility. He is paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a hang gliding accident. He is only able to nod his head. Other than that, he can not move at all and this forces him to rely on an array of aides, most of whom are unable to stay with him for more than a few weeks.
Enter Driss, a Senegalese immigrant, who shows up for a screening for new aides. From the moment it’s his turn — well, let me rephrase that — from the moment he makes it his turn, it’s apparent that this is a young man with a mighty high opinion of himself. It might even be said he has a “chip on his shoulder.” He barges into the room where Philippe and his assistant are conducting interviews and demands that they “sign my paper.” He then explains that the only reason he has come to the interview is so that he can get his signature of proof so he can claim his government benefits.
Fortunately, things don’t go as Driss planned.
Philippe tells him he must come back tomorrow to get the paper because he can’t sign it right now. He shows how he is paralyzed. Driss agrees. When he returns the next morning he is shown the house, including a very elegant room and bath that will be his – if he accepts the job to be Philippe’s new aide. He shows up the next day ready for work.
From that point, the two men develop an unlikely, yet heartfelt and remarkable friendship. This friendship helps them both grow in ways they couldn’t before they knew each other. Though not a love story, it’s clearly a “bro-mance” and these guys clearly fall in love (platonic) as they come to know and trust each other.
Stories like this are reminders that no matter how difficult and disappointing life can be, there is always joy to be found, especially for those smart enough to surround themselves with good friends.