★★★★½ - STUFF
- The French film-making duo of Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano have done it again.
After the twin delights of The Intouchables and C'est La Vie, the pair return with another engrossing, crowdpleasing charmer which will draw the whole gamut of emotions from viewers.
Inspired by the real-life work of Stephane Benhamou and Daoud Tatou, The Extraordinary focuses on two interlinked Paris organisations dedicated to helping young autistic people abandoned by the state system. There's serial runner Emilie (Suzanne-Marie Gabriell), train disruptor Joseph (Benjamin Lesieur) and self-harmer Valentin (Marco Locatelli). They are just three of around 40 in the care of Le Silence du Justes. Run by Bruno Haroche (Vincent Cassel), it offers round-the-clock care and a chance for interaction for those who might otherwise be isolated or locked away.
But despite operating for almost a decade-and-a-half, these are troubled times for Bruno and his crew. Finances are tight, their facilities are bursting at the seams ("stop telling everyone, 'I'll find a solution'," Bruno's accountant warns) and they're now the subject of a government review. The authorities are concerned that they've never sought certification and that many of their carers aren't qualified (in fact, most are troubled teens from "the projects" trained up by Bruno's mate Malik's (Red Kateb) Le Relais IDF).
The result of two years' immersion in the lives of the two associations, The Extraordinary does the remarkable job of delivering both heart and a very vivid depiction of life on the frontlines of mental health care.
Fans of the excellent American TV hospital drama New Amsterdam will see similarities between the depiction of Bruno and Ryan Eggold's Dr Max Goodwin, as they struggle to juggle their empathetic work approach with their personal lives.
Cassel (Black Swan, Eastern Promises), so often the bad guy, is outstanding here as the charismatic Bruno, whether it's negotiating the release of one of his clients, or attempting to salvage yet another date that's been ruined by the intrusion of his vocation.
He's ably supported by an memorably eclectic cast of characters and Nakache and Toledano's intimate handheld approach, that includes a series of scenes shot from the perspective of one of the more troubled young persons.
At turns, life-affirming, tear and rage-inducing, make sure you check out The Extraordinary before the inevitable English language remake.
- James Croot, STUFF
The Extraordinary is now playing at Light House Petone and Cuba!
(In French with English subtitles)