Hors normes [The Specials] (2019)

Hors normes
Director: Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano
Writer: Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Reda Kateb, Hélène Vincent, Bryan Mialoundama, Alban Ivanov, Benjamin Lesieur, Marco Locatelli, Catherine Mouchet, Frédéric Pierrot, Suliane Brahim, Lyna Khoudri, Aloïse Sauvage, Djibril Yoni
Seen on: 10.1.2020

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
Bruno (Vincent Cassel) and Malik (Reda Kateb) are best friends and also do the same job: they each run organizations that work with disabled and/or neuroatypical people, mostly autistic teens and young adults that everybody else seems to have given up on. When Bruno’s organization is being inspected again, it just adds to his overall workload and frustration. As if he hadn’t enough on his plate already, trying to do right by all of the children in his care.

I was hesitant about seeing the film, given that Intouchables has a less than great record when it comes to handling disability (I didn’t see it at the time, so my review linked above is very hype-y, but I have learned in the last decade). But since I worked with autistic children myself and since I like Cassel and Kateb, I figured I’d give it a go. I really, really, shouldn’t have. Hors normes is a sanctification of social workers that fails to take into account the perspective of the people they work with for even a second. That’s not how you make a film about such a sensitive topic. Or about any topic.

The film poster showing Bruno (Vincent Cassel) and Mailk (Reda Kateb).
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Je préfère qu’on reste amis [Let’s Stay Just Friends] (2005)

Je préfère qu’on reste amis [there’s no official English translation. But it does mean “I want us to be just friends” or “let’s stay just friends”]
Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Writer: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Cast: Jean-Paul Rouve, Gérard Depardieu, Annie Girardot, Yves Jacques

Plot:
Claude (Jean-Paul Rouve) is extremely shy and therefore also perpetually single. But his life changes drastically when he meets Serge (Gérard Depardieu) who crashed a wedding Claude was invited to. Serge crashes weddings regularly to pick up women. He also uses a dating service to meet even more women, run by Germain (Yves Jacques) – which is where he meets Claude again and decides to take him under his wing. Their new friendship has a deep effect on both of them.

Je préfère qu’on reste amis is the kind of film that you find in the special offer DVD box (or, in my case, my parents’ DVD shelf who found it in the special offer DVD box) and that it also pretty much where it belongs. It’s nice, but nothing more.

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Intouchables [Untouchable] (2011)

Intouchables
Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Writer: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Cast: François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot, Clotilde Mollet

Plot:
Driss (Omar Sy) was just released from prison and is now looking for enough job refusals so he can get his unemployment checks. But much to his surprise the rich and quadriplegic Philippe (François Cluzet) decides to hire him as his caretaker – despite or just because of Driss’ lacking attitude. Driss applies himself fully to the job, completely turns  everything in Philippe’s life upside down and becomes Philippe’s best friend. But Driss’ family as much as Philippe’s have their own demands.

Intouchables is a wonderful little movie. Beautifully made and with a good sense of humor, it manages to pull off to be deep and light at the same time. Plus, the two leads are really great.

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