French Films can help you speak French
Whether you are now living in France or just love to visit, many of us are really trying to improve our French language skills. In addition to formal lessons, you’ll gain a lot from immersing yourself in French tv, radio and of course film. The French are passionate about the cinema, so what better way to clock up your French hours than by watching films? It’s a great way to understand the culture, not just the language. To begin with, you can start with subtitles in your own language and then as you improve, switch to French subtitles to be sure you’re getting everything and to see the grammar while you listen.
If you’re going to watch a lot of French films, they might as well be good ones! So we decided to ask Manon Kerjean, the co-founder of Lost in Frenchlation which hosts French cinema with English subtitles in Paris, for her top 5 French films from recent years. Over to Manon…
La Guerre est Déclarée (Declaration of War)
Valérie Donzelli, the director of La Guerre est Déclarée, co-wrote the movie with the father of her son, Jérémie Elkaïm, and both actors star in the moving film which was inspired by their own personal experiences.
It’s about a child who is diagnosed with a brain tumour and how his young parents, Roméo and Juliette, must come together to fight for his survival. Both actors give poetic performances and the film looks at the family bond as a beautiful declaration of love rather than war. Be ready for the Vivaldi music (Four Seasons – Winter) to keep playing in your head for a while too… Check out the trailer to see if this one is for you.
Directed by Valérie Donzelli, 2011.
Camille Redouble (Camille Rewinds)
This film is somewhat of a hybrid between a bitter-sweet comedy and something from the science-fiction genre because the main character (Lvovsky, the director) is brought back into her past, the 80s.
Lvovsky pays an incredible amount of attention to detail with the use of era-appropriate accessories, clothes, expressions etc. – if you’re a fan of the 80s, you’ll love it! The film interestingly looks at the paradoxes of time-travel through the lens of genuine human emotions. The tragic scene involving her mother is very well set up and when it arrives it’s just heartbreaking… you might need some tissues for this one. Here is the trailer!
Directed by Noémie Lvovsky, 2012.
De Rouille et d’Os (Rust and Bone)
In his typical style, Oscar-nominated director Jacques Audiard uses very strong characters which must fight their way through life against challenging obstacles.
The film is about a relationship between an emotionally handicapped man and a physically handicapped woman. Although their characters are polar-opposites, they can relate to one another because they both do not fit into mainstream society. The actors give remarkable performances having been led by an incredible director. It’s a masterpiece – take a look at the trailer.
Directed by Jacques Audiard, 2012.
Mon Roi (My King)
Mon Roi is a dramatic story and an emotional rollercoaster – but it’s truly amazing. It’s a story about Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot) who finds time to reflect on her passionate but volatile and unhealthy relationship with her ex-husband (Vincent Cassel) after being involved in a skiing accident.
The actors deliver incredible performances with Bercot taking home the Best Actress Award at Cannes. It’s a powerful, at times violent story that is kept upbeat by one-liners from Tony’s hilarious brother. This movie is a must-see, but be warned that it is emotionally draining! As always, here is the trailer for you to check out.
Directed by Maïwenn, 2015.
Divines, is set in the often overlooked and tougher suburbs of Paris, but the underlying subjects of the film are friendship and hope. You might feel like the images or dialogues challenge you somewhat, but the movie still manages to be an amazing mixture of fun, laughter and tears. To put it bluntly, you’ll feel like you’ve just been punched in the face after watching Divines, but that’s a fair price to pay for experiencing this piece of genius. This is another one you’ll need the tissues for…
Directed by Houda Benyamina, 2016.
Here’s to hoping that we have more films like this coming out of France!
Manon Kerjean is the co-founder of Lost in Frenchlation, a fantastic weekly Paris screening of French movies with English subtitles. It was launched so that the international community; can get to enjoy the best of French cinema (and a cocktail or two!). Check out their upcoming programme to choose a movie to watch in one of the city’s fabulous cinemas.
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