When worlds collide

Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet in Untouchable.
Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet in Untouchable.

Loosely based on a true story, Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s crowd-pleasing comedy has smashed box office records in France and charmed audiences around Europe.

An English-language remake, reportedly starring Colin Firth with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) at the helm, is already in the works, attesting to the film’s potential as a dark horse at next year’s Oscars.

Dubbed by some wags as Driving Monsieur Daisy, this feel-good confection centres on the culture clash between a white aristocrat and a street-smart Senegalese ex-con.

Untouchable boasts some uproarious interludes, including a badly behaved night at the opera, and Toledano and Nakache’s film is anchored by a stellar performance from Omar Sy as the jailbird.

However, for all its endearing qualities - and there are many - the picture trades heavily in racial stereotypes and when the laughter subsides, you’re left to contemplate whether the writer-directors are guilty of crude insensitivity or flagrant racism.

Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is a wealthy aristocrat who suffers terrible injuries in a paragliding accident.

He roams his sprawling Parisian mansion in a wheelchair and requires constant care to accomplish everyday tasks.

In an opening montage, a series of eminently qualified carers apply for a position in Philippe’s household but he is unmoved by their glib answers.

Uncouth ex-con Driss (Omar Sy), who has only applied for the job to get a signature on his benefits card, is a breath of fresh air.

Attracted to Driss’s complete lack of pity, Philippe hires the most unlikely candidate as his live-in carer.

Against the odds, Driss forges a tender bond across the class divide, helping Philippe to teach his brattish daughter Elisa (Alba Gaia Kraghede Bellugi) some manners and to re-connect with the outside world.

Untouchable rests heavily on the shoulders of Cluzet and Sy, whose winning screen chemistry atones for the script’s occasional crassness.

The reluctance to indulge in shameless sentimentality, which distinguishes the film, also diminishes it.

Rating: 3/5