By Alan Mattli
Ten months ago, in September 2011, a movie was released in France that took the country by storm. It was called Intouchables and it became not only one of the country’s but also one of Europe’s biggest cinematic hits of all time. Writer-directors Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache adapted Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s autobiographical book Le Second Souffle and presented the world with a heartwarming story of an African immigrant from a Paris banlieue who is hired by a rich tetraplegic (Pozzo di Borgo) to be his caregiver. The Weinstein Co. saw the movie’s potential, bought the rights, and distributed it in the United States – a U.S. remake may follow. It was met with mostly benevolent reviews – it holds a 76% “Fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes – and it seems to have struck a chord with audiences as well. However, from the beginning, there have been comments on how Intouchables is in actuality an offensive, stereotypical, manipulative resurrection of abhorrent racial stereotypes. Not only is this view aggravatingly ignorant on a whole number of levels, it shows how insecure Americans still are about the portrayal of racial relations.