A few months ago I went with a friend to see Les Intouchables. Another bonus in France, it’s relatively inexpensive to go to the movies! It was 5,50 euros for each of us, with the student discount. And the theater was right on the Champs-Elysées! In brief, I have never laughed so hard at a movie that I only understood 65% of the dialogue 🙂 French, no subtitles. Moreover, not only was it a hilarious movie, but also a fantastic social commentary on Paris and the surrounding suburbs.
The population of Paris (the “arrondissements” or districts) is quite segregated by socio-economic factors; the left bank tends to be extremely wealthy (and white), the right bank a tad less so, and the Northern arrondissements (the 19th and 20th) are the poorest, and mostly comprised of foreigners and immigrants — typically of African or Arab descent. The same goes for the suburbs or the “banlieue” of Paris, which in general is significantly more impoverished and has a high immigrant population.
While I say that I live in Paris, it isn’t totally accurate; I live in the Northern suburbs, the banlieue of Paris. However, the school at which I am studying is located in the center of Paris, in the most expensive, most chic area — Saint Germain des Prés (the 7th arrondissement). As I go to school, from the suburbs to the 7th, from the train to the metro, the people change, the clothes change, the races change. While often France doesn’t like to admit it (they refrain from publishing a lot of statistics that have to do with race), I have found there to be quite a few racist elements in Paris, that often go undiscussed. A lot of this has to do with the history, the crime, the immigration policies, the social services, etc. but, when going between the suburbs and through Paris, it is impossible not to notice the divide between people and areas.
While Intouchables is a comedy (and I guarantee you’ll be laughing!), it also touches on a lot of interesting and important factors that characterize elements of Paris, those which often aren’t spoken of. In addition, it’s based on a true-story, making it all the more real and intriguing.
I loved a Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, but Intouchables shows another important side of Paris, too.
Intouchables is playing at the Sundance Cinema in Seattle (4500 9th Avenue North East)