Tonight, I’m showing a tremendous film. A glorious film. A much-anticipated film.
‘Intouchables’ is about a man named Philippe. Terribly injured in a paragliding accident, he has become quadriplegic and is looking to hire a new carer. Among the many candidates, with their briefcases and care-in-the-community smiles is a rude young man called Driss.
Driss doesn’t want a job, he wants someone to sign a piece of paper to indicate that he turned up for the interview but, ah what do you know, he’s not right for this position, and then he can receive his social security payments.
The other candidates smile a little too deliberately. They speak of their admiration for the “crippled” – a word I have always loathed; they speak about the patient as if he’s not in the room, or as if the presence of a wheelchair suggests the absence of an active mind.
Driss isn’t condescending. He’s a little ill-informed on the day-to-day troubles of quadriplegia, but he’s certain to be more interesting to Philippe than any of the other interviewees. It’s based on a true story, and I think we know by now, I’m a fool for those.
I was specifically asked for this film. I had seen it before and remembered its beauty and faithful depiction of friendship through adversity. It’s wonderful and I really would recommend it to anyone. Except for me.
My mother was Philippe. With a disease, without the tech.
The candidates apart from Driss seem unconscionably close to reality.
Last time I watched this film, I cried from the opening driving credits to the beautiful, seaside finish.
My people want to see the film. I’ve told them I’ll need to be drunk. I’ve told them I don’t know if I’ll get through it dry-eyed. I’ve told them it’s a bit close for me.
They want to see it.
I explained, I don’t have it. It may take a little while for me to source the disc. This is Binney-speak for “I’ll get to it if I have to but I really don’t want to”. The least necessary abracadabra in the history of my life: the lady who has asked for this film the most had borrowed it from a friend, and the friend didn’t mind my hanging onto it for however many weeks until I could show it at Movie Night.
“Wonderful,” I hear myself say.
This feels like an assault.
I can’t speak French. When it inevitably starts to burn me, I intend to look away from the screen. I’ll hear them talking, and I may even remember which scene we have arrived at, but I won’t know the words. I won’t have to read it.
In last Monday’s post, I didn’t talk about the film I was showing. This was because the film I was showing was bad. I spoke about it a couple of weeks before without giving away the title, because every film is its writer’s, its director’s, its cast and crew’s baby. It takes a village, you see. It will have meant the world to the people attached to it and, as it goes, my Movie Nighters loved it.
Now, I may sound like I’m delving deep into my own rectum here, but I like to think I know good writing from bad. I was quite shocked at their reaction to the film because the dialogue was stagnant, the writing patchy, the performances lacklustre, the score intrusive and sugary. In short, it was lousy. It put me in mind of how my mother used to describe television: chewing gum for the brain. Maybe because they weren’t obliged to put too much thought into it, because it didn’t ask too much of them intellectually, it was appreciated. On reflection, I fancy I’m a total pain in the brain to them.
Diametrically opposite is tonight’s film: pensive, considered, humorous, dramatic, stunning photography, excellent music, any awards council with a stamp should have named it Best Anything.
Perhaps it’s the ring of truth that cuts me to the quick. Surely the mark of any great film is the truth refracted through the kaleidoscope of cinema. It’s real, but in a beautiful way. And I already know my people will love it, because they’ve talked of little else for the last few weeks.
Pretty sure I know how I’ll cope. Yes, there’ll be quantities of alcohol involved and frequent not to say overindulgent cigarette breaks, but I think I may have to watch ‘Hairspray’ directly afterwards. There’s little else that will improve my mood so completely and so swiftly as ‘Good Morning Baltimore’.
In a similar vein, Aimée and I were watching something puerile on television. In the course of events, someone had brought a bottle of branded Rosé as a housewarming gift, or somesuch. Not being especially modern any longer, I asked Aimée if anyone drank that brand any more. I can’t recall when I last saw it on a supermarket shelf.
Aimée replied that only university students drank it because it was cheap, nasty, over sugared plonk. I wondered how to tell her it was my mother’s favourite.