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Class Act

France's breakout film star has gone from the banlieues to the big time

Photograph by Ambroise TÚzenas for TIME

Class Act. France's breakout film star has gone from the banlieues to the big time.

If you drive North out of paris toward Charles de Gaulle Airport, the city's grand buildings and boulevards give way to high-rise housing projects that stretch on for miles, sealed off from the highway by concrete barriers. Dominated by Arab and African immigrants and beset by high unemployment rates, these working-class suburbs, or banlieues, rarely get a big-screen closeup. But one of them, Bondy, is now immortalized in France's megahit comedy The Intouchables, about the unlikely, life-changing friendship between a rich white quadriplegic and his poor black caregiver from the banlieues. Filmed partly in Bondy, The Intouchables is the highest-grossing French...

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