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12 Movie Moments of 2012: September (Intouchables)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #11

Apparently there was a great deal of upset when Intouchables was chosen ahead of Rust and Bone as France’s Oscar nominee this year. While I’d argue that any film that restricts nominations to one-per-country is a little bit daft (even if I can understand the practical concerns), I can’t help but feel like France made the right choice here. The Intouchables is a superb piece of feel-good cinema that works much better than one might expect. Even my inner cynic was convinced. And I was convinced, conveniently enough, by the opening sequence, which features a joy ride to the sound of September by Earth, Wind and Fire.

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The Intouchables features a soundtrack by the superb Ludovico Einaudi. His score for the film is good. It is very good. It is so good, in fact, that I feel a little guilty about falling so deeply in love with the opening sequence, featuring a bit of seventies funk. While September is a pretty amazingly funky song, especially played on the right sound system, it’s the combination of sound and images in Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s credit sequence that really sparks.

We don’t really get a proper sense of our two leads, Philippe and Driss, until later in the film, but it’s an absolutely striking visual. Paris by night is always stunning. As shot by cinematographer Mathieu Vadepied, it looks positively transcendental. Even the shots of the car moving through the tunnels look absolutely beautiful. Using split screen and setting it the soundtrack by Earth, Wind and Fire just makes it seem even more impressive.

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It helps that the sequence does afford us a brief introduction to the two leading characters, handily letting the viewer know that this isn’t going to be a standard and entirely serious “triumph over adversity” or “escape from unprivileged background” story. There’s a fair amount of cheek in Philippe’s willingness to exaggerate his disability to avoid a speeding ticket, as well as Driss’ willingness to put his employer’s life on the line by speeding around Paris.

It also serves to waylay any concerns we might have about any inevitable mistrust or issues that the pair must work through – they trust each other completely in that one short scene. Although we find out a lot more about both characters in the scenes that follow, that sense of trust is really all we need to know about them this early in the film. In fact that mutual trust makes it possible for us to trust The Intouchables, and just sit back and enjoy the sound of September playing on a superb sound system.

Check out our other movie moments of 2012:

12. We Built This City (Rock of Ages)

11. September (Intouchables)

10. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, Looper)

09. Throwing the toys together (The Avengers)

08. Running (Shame)

07. “You’d love my boyfriend, he’s a total chick flick nut.” (ParaNorman)

06. The Dark Knight Returns (The Dark Knight Rises)

2 Responses

  1. Most fun I had with a movie in years. Loved it. Saw an interview with the persons the story it is based on and it and that make it even more moving and especially believable.

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