American cinéma dominates the global market, but let it be known that there are some hidden gems in the French film market that are worth every bit of your time. Touching, funny, and dramatic these films will elevate you to new cultural levels and give you that certain “je ne sais quoi” in your next conversation. And subtitles are allowed, of course.
1. Les Intouchables
Tears and laughs—this film has the whole gambit. When a rich paraplegic (who is the French equivalent of Dustin Hoffman, just wait) hires a thug for a caretaker, unlikely friendship blossoms. The pair learns from each other about life, love, and the power of the past. This is a must watch (it nabbed Best Foreign Language film at the Golden Globes).
2. L’Auberge Espagnol
This is the film that all college students can relate to. One tiny apartment is crammed full of many very different roommates—each from a different country. While the international living situation may be unique, the misunderstandings, trials, tribulations, and ultimately triumphs will leave you appreciating your college experience. (Oh, and to help, “le fac” means “university” in French).
3. L’Autre Fils-
A bit heavier than the other films, The Other Son tackles a weighty and large issue with a small and eye-opening narrative. Two sons, one Muslim and one Jewish, grow up in the heated Israeli and Palestinian conflict. But this typical switched at birth scenario takes a heated turn when both boys must comfort that they, in fact, come from the very culture they have been bred to hate. This movie is a lesson in history, culture, and acceptance.
Click here to watch the trailer.
4. Monsieur Ibrahim et Les Fleurs du Coran
Based off the beloved novel, this film is striking. Set in a French town in the 1950s, young Momo faces the realities of growing up virtually an orphan (his first stop in adulthood involves some scandalous behavior). Momo finds a companion and father in the local store owner and the pair embarks on an adventure of a lifetime. The soundtrack is equally amazing too.
5. Les Visiteurs
This could otherwise be known as the French equivalent to Monty Python and the Holy Grail on steroids. A medieval pair is accidentally cast into the future where they encounter their descendants and some 21st-century posh living. Their adventures to return home are incredibly outrageous, but hilarious nonetheless. You will “MDR” as the French say (“lol”). If you are left wanting more, you are in luck–it’s a trilogy!