Francosphères

No laughing matter?

Navigating political (in)correctness in Intouchables

Francosphères (2018), 7, (1), 1–14.

Abstract

The second most commercially successful domestic film of all time in France, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s 2011 comedy Intouchables thrusts issues of multiculturalism, humour, and political (in)correctness into the spotlight. The subject of polarized reviews, the film is at once progressive and conservative. On the one hand, it portrays cultural stereotyping, predatory sexual behaviour, and problematic representations of black and disabled characters as comedic devices. But on the other, in a revision of several cinematic tropes from the buddy comedy to le cinéma de banlieue, Intouchables subverts the traditional narrative of the immigrant struggling to integrate into the French mainstream. This article explores Intouchables’ representation of a Senegalese-born protagonist who seizes multiple opportunities for self-determination and social and physical mobility. Yet it also critiques how the film navigates – or fails to navigate – the challenges of political correctness in its conservative portrayal of multiculturalism in contemporary France.


Details

Author details

King, Gemma