What are the best premieres in life

Free TV premiere : What really matters in life: "Pretty much best friends"

Stories that tell of friendships across class barriers have a very special charm; perhaps because they are rarely seen in real life. For a good twenty years, “Miss Daisy and Her Chauffeur” was one of the most beautiful films of its kind, then, in 2011, “Pretty Best Friends” hit the cinemas. The comedy by the two Frenchmen Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano (writer and director) is not only characterized by its warm, sympathetic humor and two excellent leading actors, it also tells of real events. The script is based on the 2001 autobiography “Le second souffle” by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo. He was the managing director of the champagne manufacturer Pommery until he crashed paragliding in June 1993, and has been paraplegic ever since.

“Pretty much best friends” is a fitting title in every way; even the subtle caveat is perfectly appropriate. The original title “Intouchables” describes the impossibility of friendship between the wealthy Philippe (François Cluzet) and the young black Driss (Omar Sy) even better. Immigrant son Driss, recently released from prison, applies to single Philippe to work as a carer. His hands-on and pragmatic manner impresses the man in the wheelchair who tries to hire him. Driss not only brings a breath of fresh air into the house, he also helps his employer to regain courage.

Of course, Nakache and Toledano have sharpened the plot cinematically, but by and large the script sticks to the facts. The authenticity of a story is not in itself a sign of quality, but it gives good films an additional charm; especially when the events described are almost too good to be true. The model for the film character Driss was the then 21-year-old Algerian Abdel Yasmin Sellou, who was Pozzo di Borgo's carer for ten years and who helped him overcome his depression. The two were linked by far more than just a working relationship. On one of their trips together, the widower met his second wife in Marrakech. Today he lives with her and two daughters near the Moroccan port city of Essaouira. Sellou also found a woman for life in Morocco. He is now the father of three children and has returned to Algeria, where he runs a broiler business. He also wrote down the common story (“Simply Friends”). Pozzo di Borgo has described ways to a solidary society in another book (“Quite vulnerable, quite strong”).

In 2003, the unusual friendship was the subject of a documentary. Then there was a large number of requests for a feature film, but only Nakache and Toledano were able to convince Pozzo di Borgo with their concept. However, on the condition that five percent of the proceeds should go to his association for the disabled. The deal has paid off: With over 320 million euros worldwide, the film grossed more than thirty times its production costs (almost ten million euros). In France, “Pretty Best Friends” became one of the most successful cinema productions ever, and in Germany, too, the comedy was one of the top-selling films of 2012 with nine million viewers. On Monday, ARD will show it as a free TV premiere.

“Pretty much best friends”, ARD, Monday, 8:15 pm

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