'Excellent' movie in any language

As a lifelong fan of cinema one thing that has always troubled me is stupid people talking during the movies.

Being a reasonable person I have no problem with my fellow moviegoers blathering away during trailers but the second the feature starts, I think it's only good manners to shut your cake-hole.

Occasionally, though, people who talk in the movies do provide some great material; like the man sitting behind me during The Blair Witch Project who thought what he was watching was real.

Then there was the guy who blurted out "that's so unrealistic" in The Matrix and the woman at the end of The Sixth Sense who missed the twist of the decade and apparently thought a bullet had been slowly working its way through Bruce Willis' torso for the entire film.

My wife had someone sitting near her who initially would not shut up when she went to see the hit French film The Intouchables recently.

First, the woman who was there with a friend had to announce her surprise and frustration that a French film was in - wait for it - French! And that it came with, what-do-you-call-those-things? Oh, yeah, subtitles!

My beloved was worried her chatty neighbour might continue to grumble her way through the film but wonderfully she became engrossed in it and kept her mouth shut until the end when, with joy in her voice, she declared: "That was excellent!"

Directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, The Intouchables is a Driving Miss Daisy-esque comedy drama that is now the second most successful film at the French box office ever. Likeable star François Cluzet plays Philippe, an extremely rich quadriplegic with an understandably bad attitude. Fortunately for Philippe, life gets a lot more interesting when he hires a young man from the ghetto named Driss, played by Omar Sy, to be his new live-in carer.

As is usually the case in such films, Philippe and Driss become friends and the older bloke rediscovers his joy of life thanks to the exuberance, spontaneity and honesty of his unlikely new friend.

One of the nice bits about The Intouchables is that it is based on a true story. Another is that it looks fabulous. Without overly milking the locations, its makers have given the film a winning visual lavishness and the camera work is all class.

It sounds good too. The music that ranges from Mozart to Motown will have you tapping your toes, although it would have been nice to have at least one song sung in French.

Cluzet and Sy share excellent chemistry and look like they'd thoroughly enjoy each other's company in real life. And while Sy's performance is easily the film's most spectacular, Cluzet does a terrific job literally acting from the neck up. It's easy to see why The Intouchables is proving such a crowd-pleaser worldwide.

It's very well made, the leads are excellent and it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Personally, I found it all little Hallmark for my tastes but there is no denying it is a very entertaining way to spend two hours.

Bottom line: Very nice crowd-pleaser.

The Marlborough Express