"The first step in caregiving is to let go of our ideas about what it means to be a helpful, compassionate caregiver. These mental images set standards that easily lead to disappointment, frustration and self-doubt. The direct experience of giving care is new every moment and leads us into unfamiliar directions. We gather experience along the way, but with each encounter we must show up, stay present to what is actually happening, and see what occurs."

— William and Nancy Martin in The Caregiver's Tao Te Ching

Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is paralyzed from the neck down as a result of a paragliding accident. He lives in a luxurious Paris apartment with his spoiled teenage daughter (Alba Gaia Bellugi) and members of his staff. Since his accident he has gone through a large number of caregivers, and now he's interviewing more. After a long wait, Driss (Omar Sy) barrages impatiently into the interview room. He's really there to get someone to sign his form saying he applied for a job and was rejected so that he can receive unemployment benefits. There is something about this Senegalese man's vitality, cockiness, and sensuality that appeals to Philippe. Much to the dismay of his pretty red-headed assistant, Magalie (Audrey Fleurot), he hires the brash young man for a one-month trial. As a caregiver, Driss comes with no ideas about his work. That means he is ready to respond naturally with whatever comes up.

"When caring for others,
remain behind them.
Help them,
but do not control them.
Serve them,
but do not manipulate them.
Attend them,
but do not diminish them."

— William and Nancy Martin in The Care Giver's Tao Te Ching

Driss moves into Philippe's apartment. His spacious bedroom with a private bathroom is quite a contrast to his family's apartment that is full of children of all ages. We can assume it is also very different from the prison where he spent six months for his involvement in a robbery. During his training period, Driss learns all the details of caring for a quadriplegic and soon masters the task of lifting him from his bed to his wheel-chair. He is on call even during the evening when Philippe is subject to heavy breathing and copious sweating. Driss wheels him out into the night for a breath of fresh air.

"How can we ever know
if we are truly being helpful?
We have no grand plan
for making everything better.
We can't be sure that what we do
brings help
or harm."

— William and Nancy Martin in The Care Giver's Tao Te Ching

Among the pleasures that this creative caregiver shares with his new friend are speeding down the highway, smoking marijuana, having the erogenous zones of both ears massaged, talking to his daughter about getting rid of her bad attitude, and listening to music by Earth, Wind, and Fire. On his part, Philippe introduces his new friend to modern art and the opera. While Driss can't stop laughing during the latter, he does his own abstract painting and Philippe gets it sold on the art market.

"The door of caregiving opens into freedom,
and we are able to simply be here.
That is all we have to give
and all that is ever needed."

— William and Nancy Martin in The Care Giver's Tao Te Ching

The Intouchables is written and directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakacheo based on a true story (pictures of the two men are presented during the closing credits). This character-driven drama opens the door to some interesting ideas about the informal, spontaneous, playful, and laughter-filled dimensions of caregiving. In a very touching way it also makes it quite clear the terrible isolation and loneliness of quadriplegic and other handicapped individuals. In one of his most tender and kind acts Drisss encourages Philippe to reach out for a woman with whom he can converse and then move on to intimacy.

The performances by Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy are both top-drawer. His stunning physical presence, buoyant laughter, and sexy dance moves help make Omar Sy one of 2012 breakout actors.

"There is no independent existence.
In caring for another person,
we ourselves are cared for."

— William and Nancy Martin in The Care Giver's Tao Te Ching