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Weinstein Company Acquires US Remake Rights To French Buddy Comedy "Les Intouchables"

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 11, 2011 5:50 AM
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I keep saying that I'm going to finally commit to becoming fluent in French, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet! Any native French speakers in NYC who want to hook me up with some lessons, send me an email. Seriously...!

I say that because we've written about quite a few French films in the last year or so, and there isn't always an English-language translation of the material, unless it's a high-profile film that plays at some major international film festival like Cannes. Otherwise, I'm left having to use Google or Yahoo to translate, which stinks because the translations are often rather crude. Even worse is when I have a video clip without subtitles. I can't just dump the video into Google and ask it to translate the conversation for me... certainly not like I can with plain old written text.

Earlier today, I learned via Premiere magazine's French website that Harvey Weinstein and his Weinstein Company have acquired the remake rights to a French buddy comedy title Les Intouchables, or The Untouchable Ones (or just The Untouchables) in English (per Google anyway).

The film hasn't even been released in France yet (won't be until November), as Premiere magazine notes, but Harvey has seen it and clearly loves it enough that he not only bought the English-language remake rights, but also the USA distribution rights of the original French film.

So, as you're probably wondering, what's Les Intouchables about? Said to be based on a funny and moving true story, the film centers on the relationship between a wealthy aristocrat who becomes a quadriplegic after a paragliding accident, and the young "street-tough" man he hires to take care of him. I'm guessing that, at first, things are rocky, but then they eventual learn from each other, grow, and become best of friends... or something like that.

From the photo above, you can of course tell who is who. Omar Sy is our "street-tough" dude, Driss, while François Cluzet (whom I actually recently watched in the engaging 2006 French thriller Tell No One, based on the Harlan Corbin novel, which Ben Affleck is also adapting), stars as Philippe the rich quadriplegic.

I'm not familiar with the true story that the film is based on, and couldn't immediately find anything about it on the web, and I can only help but wonder what Harvey sees in it to warrant a Hollywood remake. Based on what I've learned about the original story thus far, there's nothing particular fresh about the concept, and one can't help but instantly see some potential derisive character archetypes here, specifically where the black man is concerned.

But, again, some of its context may be lost in translation for me, so I'll wait until I know more before criticizing the project, and the Weinstein remake. Given that it is based on true events, I'm wondering if Harvey will stick to the original story and characters (the right white quadriplegic and the poor, street smart, black tough guy), or revamp the entire idea.

I couldn't find a trailer, except for the below behind-the-scenes footage from Les Intouchables, which features interviews with the directors and 2 stars. I wish it were subtitled, as it might give us a much better idea of what to expect from the film. But maybe our French-speaking readers can help with a summary. Regardless, I've added the film to my "watch list."

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