DIRECTOR: Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache (the intouchables, c'est la vie)
STARRING: vincent cassel, reda ketab, helene vincent and bryan mialoundama
REVIEWER: lyall carter
The story of two men, educators of children and adolescents with autism.
Although quite different from each other, two of the best films to come out of French cinema in the last few years has to be The Intouchables and C’est la vie. Now Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache have returned with The Extraordinary which is a film that celebrates the beauty of humanity and will sucker punch you right in the soul.
The Extraordinary is the true story of Stephane Benhamou and Daoud Tatou, two friends from different religious faiths who, 20 years ago, created a pair of non-profit organisations for children with severe autism. Renamed Bruno and Malik in the film, the pair have lived in a different world: the world of autistic children and teens. In charge of two separate non-profit organisations (The Hatch & The Shelter), they train young people from underprivileged areas to be caregivers for extreme cases that have been refused by all other institutions. It's an exceptional partnership, outside of traditional settings, for some quite extraordinary characters.
To title this film The Extraordinary is an understatement. What Bruno and Malik and their teams do for the children is beyond extraordinary. Even the way in which Bruno and Malik create their teams, young people from underprivileged areas, is beyond extraordinary. It’s not only a celebration of Bruno and Malik (portrayed wonderfully by Cassel and Kateb) and their teams humanity but the humanity of the people and families that they care for. So often we as a society neglect to see the inherent value within every human being. The Extraordinary reminds us to search for it and find it.
The narrative flows brilliantly, never stooping to sentimentality or sappiness, but delivers us a story that is more than completely believable as you are drawn into its depths. Such is its power that at times you find yourself questioning whether in fact this is actually a documentary feature.
A powerful film that celebrates the beauty of humanity, The Extraordinary will sucker punch you in the soul and have you thinking about it for days afterwards. One of 2019’s best.