Driss (Omar Sy) likes to drive a Maserati fast, it sounds good and he loves to weave in and out of the traffic at night in central Paris. He attracts police attention, his passenger does no more than raise a wry smile.
Driss is stopped, guns are drawn and yet a few minutes later he is being escorted by the police eager to help him and his passenger in any way they can, why?
Following this impressive opening scene, we learn more about his passenger. Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is a very rich and lonely paraplegic, crippled following an accident indulging his love of extreme sports. Understandably he needs help, lots of it to get him through the day.
Searching for a nurse/assistant/caregiver Philippe stumbles across Driss, a poor man from the wrong side of the tracks, only at the interview for a signature to continue receiving his benefit. Driss provides Philippe with no pity, an emotion that Philippe is all stocked up on, so he takes a chance on somebody well outside the households normal comfort zone.
Driss is direct, loud and lacking in an understanding of the finer things in life, albeit well versed in otherways. He begins to grow and realise his full potential, meanwhile encouraging Philippe, previously living a chaste and conservative life, to enjoy life to the full as only a very rich invalid can.
The film is loosely based on a true story and makes for a cracking and uplifting film. Both characters gain from each other and are played with wit, depth and in the case of Driss, a twinkle in the eye.
Of course the story would be very different if Phillipe was not astonishing wealthy, with a retinue of devoted staff, a classical orchestra at his beck and call and a private jet for when it all gets a bit much. If you can accept these caveats and the fact that Symar learns very quickly, appears well fed and healthy despite his background and dances like Michael Jackson, there is much to enjoy.
Is this just wish fulfilment, a film about people helping each other, both growing and enriching their lives as a result? Maybe, surely that is a better message to send than most films where body count, explosions and gory deaths are the main and only content.
A gentle film that is not really a comedy or a heavy drama, a hybrid of the two. Whilst the film does not shy away from some of the unpleasantness and hardship of a fine mind locked in a useless body, the whole enterprise is cushioned by enormous wealth and privilege that few could ever dream of.
Quick tip, stay for the end to see the real life characters making a brief appearance during the credits.
An enjoyable and ultimately ‘feel good’ film which may be more appreciated by a more mature audience but there is something for everyone here, provided of course you are not ‘subtitelaphobic’.
One of the most successful French language films ever, watch it now before the inevitable Hollywood remake