Written & Directed By: Oliver Nakache & Eric Toledan
Cinematography By: Ludovico Einaudi
Editor: Dorian Rigal-Ansous
Cast: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Audrey Fleurot, Anne Le Ny, Clotide Mollet
In Paris, the aristocratic and intellectual Philippe is a quadriplegic millionaire that is interviewing candidates for the position of his caretaker with his red-haired secretary Magalie. Out of the blue, the rude African Driss cuts the line of candidates and brings a document from the Social Security and asks to Phillipe to sign it to prove that he is seeking a job position to receive his unemployment insurance. Philippe challenges Driss and offers a period of adaptation of one week to him to gain experience helping him. Then Driss would decide whether he would like to stay with him or not. Driss accepts the bet and moves to the mansion, changing the boring life of Phillipe and his employees.
This is the type of film I usually avoid. The feel good movie variety, but this one actually works and is truly enjoyable. I believe because while it is sweet it’s not as manipulative and overly saccharine sweet so that you feel guilty if you don’t like it nor do you feel conned once it’s over and compare it to other cinema or even life.
In other words it’s not a tale you believe could only happen in a movie designed to make you feel happy. They are, but this time based on a true story. That is more a story of decency that seems rare in this cynical world.
The fillmmakers changed the race of one character based on the true life tale. I believe to make the tale more obviously mismatched and universal from a purely visual take. In real life the helper was middle eastern, in the film Black. We see the actual participants at the end of the film.
Omar Sy while not necessarily a newcomer gives a dynamic charisma and believable performance in the film. Every time he is on screen he manages to make you laugh or leave you with a smile on your face.
The truly amazing thing about this film is that it is not obvious in it’s direction nor does it seem like there is much direction or camera work going on. Since you are so lost in the film you are enjoying it too much to know. It flows more like a story then a film, You are watching or should be studying, Nothing is noticeable. That is truly having full control of your audience and of what you are making. It seems like you are barely doing anything as a filmmaker and letting it speak for itself, As no explanations are really needed. Even though the filmmaker have made it and shaped it that way.
While the lead characters are mismatched one stuffy and rich the other streetwise. They work well with one another because they are both treated and judged based on the way they look, but once together treat and speak to one another like they aren’t different of course they learn certain life lessons from one another that will help then each out in the long run and be more rich as human beings because of it. It’s one of the reasons he hires the young man over so called professionals who treat him more like a foreign object. Where as he helper speaks to him and treats him like a peer. Which is why the relationship works.
The only disappointment that I could feel was while we get a graphic telling of how Philippe gets over his problems and cleans up his life. When it comes to Driss’s problems we get a quick glimpse. Then all of a sudden the problems are cured. No real view of how. Nor any details except how he uses his skills to find employment.
The film flirts with having the mystical negro syndrome, but makes the character down to earth and rough around the edges so he can be problematic, but good hearted.
It’s a drama that has a lot of heart and just a dash of cynicism.
It’s a predictable tale, but catches you off guard and reminds you of how and why life is beautiful.