Mr. Doolittle? Fortunately, this film kept it real, with no sprinkle of sparkles, swirls of air and dust, nor levitation with a beam of silver light; none of those fairy-tale transformations, which included Driss(Omar Sy) and his street talks, i.e., he didn’t end up speaking like an Aristocrat. I hated it when I watched it, partly, two years ago, I couldn’t stand Driss’s ignorance and the way he treated people, given that he was a hired attendant afterall: my prejudice. This time, the dissonance was still there, but with subtitle on(French: it’s so hard to be good with a language without true immersion), it disappeared gradually. My point is this film will worth your time watching it, cause it is full of nuances about social status, humanity, choices, true to oneself, and above all, forging of a friendship in the most unusual circumstance.
Opening scene: car chase by police. A Maserati cut in and out of the highway. Driver is a black guy, and the passenger, an unshaved stoic man…the man looks like having a seizure, the police shamed to have stop them, which looks like an emergency. The police escort them to hospital.
Philippe(François Cluzet) is a quadriplegic, and he is hiring for an assistant to tender to his physical needs. Driss is on social assistance, and he must be shown as employable to maintain receiving his payments, so he applies. All he wants is a proof that he goes to job interviews. Philippe hires him among others more qualified: physiotherapists, butlers, nurses, … Driss moves into a mansion with Eigtheen century’s regal decors and paintings.
Towards the end of Driss’s first day training, he is presented with a pair of long latex gloves. Yvonne(Anne Le Ny), the Housekeeper, is having dinner, and Driss demands that he will not use the gloves in anyway or form, let alone touching a man!
I forgot that this was a comedy with shades of My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman, Prince of Bel-Air, those rags-to-riches tales, but this was masculine. Omar Sy was extremely convincing in his character (maybe becasue I haven’t seen a lot of his works), same for François Cluzet. Imagine, the only acting tool he had was his facial expression and functions. In many scenes, Driss literally pulls, hugs and grips Phillippe. The trust between Sy and Cluzet must be immense; hence transcended Phillippe and Driss. Certainly, a major part of the story here was about trust, which curated friendship. Phillippe’s best friend and lawyer warns him of Driss and his past conviction of robbery, but Phillippe is least concerned about that fact. Perhaps, it was Phillippe’s attitude that helped me most with my dissonance: a billionaire Aristocrat permits a “low-life” to mess with his life.
As the film progresses, there are more “uncool” things that Driss does, but at the same time, his warmth as a human also starts to radiate. He constantly flirts with Phillippe’s assistant, Magalie(Audrey Fleurot), and you think she would complain, instead she plays him back coquettishly (so unexpected, but remarkable)!
Phillippe teaches Driss about arts, culture, classicals, and operas; at each Driss laughs and points out their absurdity. For example, the man dresses in green that looks like a tree that sings in German in an opera!
I don’t want to spoil the fun, but this film is really about the difference between the down-to-earth and the elitist (Aristrocrat not the Nouvel Rich). So depend the side you are on, your uncomfortable comfortable level will determine how well you will like this movie. In other words, I was very uncomfortable watching Driss pouring steaming hot tea on Phillippe’s handicapped legs ( how stupid and insensitive can a person be, in my mind), but for some they may LOL with that scene!?
Beautiful ending, and to finish it off, this film is based on a true story.
WATCH… the aftertaste was sweet and memorable.