I want to say something meaningful about Laurence, Anyways. I feel a strong desire to capture the moment, or any moment, though that is precisely what a three-hour movie with a ten-year story line defies you to do. And it is what the title character, Laurence, and his fiery lover Fred, would dare you to try. I feel them here, daring me. Capture me in a word, fit me into a box, go on, try it.
I won’t, but not because I don’t enjoy the challenge of summarizing infinity, only in the interest of sparing the finite from the disgrace of such a task, and sparing you from having to hear about it. Suffice it to say that the next time I walk in slow motion down a school hallway filled with smoking ’80s punks and tittering teenage girls, I will carry myself with the ferocity and nowhere-near-certainty of Ms. Laurence, Anyways.
I am very much looking forward to this week’s Cape Breton Film Series presentation, which also happens to be its annual benefit for l’Arche Cape Breton. The film will be followed by a great party at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion, featuring the music of award-winning singer-songwriter Dave Gunning, and offering an exceptional Lebanese-Canadian buffet. Be sure to head down to show your support and meet the wonderful people of Cape Breton’s l’Arche Community!
The night’s film is The Intouchables, a true story brought to the screen by directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. The premise is simple enough: a millionaire is paralyzed from the neck down after a hang-gliding accident, and he hires a street-smart Senegalese man to be his caregiver. From there, it only gets simpler. Guess who teaches who how to live again? I’ll give you a hint. It’s never the white guy.
Now I’m going to level with you. I’ve read a lot of reviews of this film, and it has been called everything from reductionist claptrap to Uncle Tom’s Buddy Com. In other words, if you’re paying attention, the story falls back on significant and familiar racial stereotypes to make its rather obvious point. A rich white asshole’s life is turned around by the poor black man he employs and, perhaps, cultures. It hurts to write it. It’s Driving Miss Daisy with a 21st century’s total lack of excuses.
But I still can’t wait to see it. I am only telling you this so that the flagrant neglect of subtlety on the director’s part will not spoil for you what I believe will be a heartwarming and uplifting movie. Audiences love it, and most reviewers do too. It is only those paid to be most critical who insist on harping on the racism “thing”. Not that we could blame them. It’s right there, in front of your face, the whole time. So now you know.
And now we can get on with what’s so good about it. A marvelously acted story of triumph over adversity with a light heart and a warm smile. The film’s simplicity, taken as it is intended, is simply refreshing. No surprises, no mystery, no slow motion. The film just is, and it asks as little of us. Just show up, take a load off, and enjoy a film filled with humour and joy.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
The Intouchables plays Thursday night at 7pm at Empire Theatres Studio 10, and the L’arche Cape Breton benefit will follow at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion.