"Feel-good cinema at its very best..."

Untouchable is the most successful film not in the English language of all time and has been an absolute revelation in France. Of course what comes with such a pedigree, however, is a degree of scepticism, as you become wary of the expectations placed upon the feature. Well, ignore any prejudged feelings of this sort, because Untouchable is as good as they say it is - and deserving of such extraordinary accolades.

Based on a true story, we follow the unlikely relationship between the ageing, quadriplegic aristocrat Philippe (Francois Cluzet), and his carer Driss (Omar Sy) - the boy from the slums, having recently come out of prison. Driss applies for the job to look after Philippe - who is paralysed from the neck down following a paragliding accident – hoping to be rejected but gain a signature that would enhance his chances of claiming benefits. However, Philippe admires the young man's detached and carefree demeanour, believing Driss to be the perfect person to help him overcome the grief of having to live his life in such a restricted way.

Despite the disbelief of those around Philippe, he conjures a strong bond with Driss as the pair seemingly help one another, as not only does Driss' nonchalant and daring persona rub off on Philippe, but the latter's educated insight into arts and culture proves to be inspiring to the former convict. However, the pair appreciate their blossoming friendship cannot last forever - as eventually the differences in personality and lifestyles will prove divisive.

Given the film's narrative I had expected the picture to be emotionally manipulative, in a similar manner to The Blind Side or The Help - yet this isn't anywhere near as contrived, and in turn is a simply brilliant piece of cinema. That's probably because it's taken the Hollywoodisation out of it and is instead replaced with a quintessentially charming French atmosphere. Though needless to say, I still cried.

The main reason why this film works despite its potentially mawkish story, is because directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano have implemented a genuinely funny script, with a host of moments that make you laugh out loud. This combined with the moving side to the film makes for a perfect balance of comedy/tragedy. The film also benefits from remaining as solely a study of the relationship between Philippe and Driss. There are other sub story-lines, such as Driss' younger brother's turn to crime, but they are merely highlighted and not delved into very deeply - keeping the spotlight solely on the most important matter of the couple's friendship.

The performances from both Cluzet and Sy are exceptional also and you never once question the unlikely circumstances that have brought them together as they appear to have a genuine chemistry. Cluzet stands out for me, bringing a sincerity and humility to what must have been a challenging role to take on. Philippe has this playful glint in his eyes which justifies his decision to hire Driss. Most people wouldn't have taken on someone who acted so brashly in their interview, admitted to not actually wanting the job - before proceeding to steal personal belongings from their new employer. This could potentially have been a questionable aspect to this feature, yet Cluzet's portrayal of a man with an intrinsic sense of adventure makes the entire thing seem plausible and believable. 

Untouchable is feel-good cinema at its very best, as I literally sat and watched on with a beaming smile smacked across my face throughout. Following on from the immense success of The Artist, it just shows that sometimes all people want is to be made to feel good - and French cinema seems to be leading the way in such an area at present.