Many film enthusiasts often describe French movies as beautiful—or sometimes as demoralising because of their refusal of typical American ‘happy endings’. While movies from all around the world each have their own specificities, French movies have a developed sense of aesthetics that leads many cinephiles to be drawn to them. But as fascinating as French movies are, it is also near impossible to find them online when you don’t live in France.
I truly feel your pain, I, too, wasted hours searching for a specific French movie on Google, just trying to find one good link. Look no more! I have found the perfect little helper, which is called a VPN. All you have to do is find one, download it, and ta-dah, you will then be able to watch any foreign movie you want on the biggest streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Now that accessing Netflix France (or any other country’s cinema you’re into) is not a problem for you anymore, I can imagine that you’re overwhelmed by all these new options. That’s why I’ve made a list of the 8 best French movies you can only watch on Netflix France. Enjoy!
All That Glitters, titled Tout ce qui brille in France, is a classic comedy which received overwhelming success when it was released in 2010. The debut feature film for Géraldine Nakache and Hervé Mimran, who co-wrote and co-directed the film, tells the story of Lila and Ely, two working-class best friends who live just outside of Paris and dream of a more glamorous lifestyle.
When Lila meets a group of Parisians from the luxurious 16th arrondissement, she decides to lie about where she and Ely live and gives them a fake address in Neuilly, the wealthiest and most expensive suburb of Paris. While Lila continues to lie about herself and dump her old boyfriend for a rich one called Max, Ely grows sick of her lies and both stop talking.
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Not only does this movie depict Paris and its outskirts as something more than the cliché ‘city of love’ but it also has a somewhat happy ending! Leïla Bekhti, who plays Lila in All That Glitters, won the César Award for Best Female Hope of the Year (newcomer) in 2011.
Love Lasts Three Years, which is translated from its French title L’amour dure trois ans, is the third cinema adaptation of a book from French writer, literary critic and television presenter Frédéric Beigbeder. Despite belonging to the mundane world, Beigbeder often criticises it through his signature provocative style and his self-criticism. In his most famous book 99 francs, the writer condemns the advertising business, which he worked in for many years. In Love Lasts Three Years, Beigbeder does the same with love.
This movie is a satire of the modern world where the cynical main character called Marc Marronnier believes (and proves) that lasting love is condemned from the very beginning.
If you want to delve into the bizarre yet hilarious world of French comedy, then Fear City, also known as La Cité de la peur in France, is the movie for you. Written by and starring Chantal Lauby, Alain Chabat and Dominique Farrugia of the comedy group ‘Les Nuls’, and directed by Alain Berbérian in 1994, Fear City parodies big-budget American films like Basic Instinct and The Terminator by relying heavily on puns and wordplay. Non-French speakers, I must warn you first—watching this gem with English subtitles might result in a loss of wordplays, but it’s worth a watch anyway.
Love is an erotic drama art film written and directed by Gaspar Noé which marked his fourth directorial venture after a gap of five years. It had its premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and was also released in 3D. The film is notable for its unsimulated love scenes so don’t think you can watch this at home with the rest of your family as things might get awkward very rapidly.
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As one of the sexiest French movies out there, Love was described by Noé himself as a film “that will give guys a hard-on and make girls cry.” Noé also shared that the film’s screenplay was only seven pages long. Because of its highly sexual nature, Love was refused a license to be screened in Russia.
All About Actresses, its French title being Le Bal des actrices, is a mockumentary written and directed by Maiwenn Le Besco, which depicts a fake ‘making of’ scenario of a documentary based on her actress friends such as Charlotte Rampling, Julie Depardieu and Jeanne Balibar as well as her troubled home life with French rapper Joeystarr. A must-watch if you’re looking for a fake (but almost real) glimpse of the lives of French actresses fighting for both their own supposed integrity and the latest leading role.
Killer Instinct, titled Mesrine: L’instinct de mort in France, tells the true story of the notorious French gangster Jacques Mesrine, with the focus on his life before the early 1970s and the events that led to him later being declared public enemy number 1 in France. Played by Vincent Cassel—the hottest man in France according to me—Mesrine’s character is electrified by the actor’s performance.
The 2008 movie was followed by a second part, Public Enemy Number One, detailed Mesrine’s criminal career. If you’re up for a French action movie and a César Best Actor performance, then Killer Instinct followed by Public Enemy Number One are the two things you’ll need to watch.
Probably the stupidest French movie there ever was, RRRrrrr!!! remains a classic for most French people. Directed by Alain Chabat, who was part of the previously mentioned comedy group ‘Les Nuls’, the film is set 35,000 years ago during the Stone Age and tells the story of two neighbouring tribes who have been fighting for years over a shampoo formula. While the Tribe of Clean Hair enjoys peaceful days, the Tribe of Dirty Hair laments, which leads to its leader sending a spy to steal the recipe. Meanwhile, for the first time in the history of humanity, a crime has been committed. As the tribes fight over a shampoo recipe, the first police investigation in history begins.
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The Sense of Wonder, which came out as Le Goût des merveilles in French cinemas, is a romance film written and directed by Éric Besnard that tells the story of Louise Legrand, a widow with two young children who discovers a new lease of life after she nearly runs over a stranger with her car. As cheesy as the plot sounds, I would strongly recommend this movie if you’re looking for a typical (but good) French romantic film. If you’re truly interested in expanding your knowledge of French cinema, keep in mind that any movie with Virginie Efira, who plays the lead role of Louise Legrand in The Sense of Wonder, is bound to be romantic.
In all honesty, these eight movies are only the top of the iceberg when it comes to French cinema, which is why I selected an eclectic mix of genres. Some you might love, some not, depending on your personal cinematographic preferences. But if you do end up falling in love with one of these, try to further your research by watching other movies by the same directors or with the same actors. After all, that’s what cinephiles do best and now that you know how to access any website in order to watch your favourite foreign movies, your passion will have no limits!
Cinemas are slowly coming back, but if you’re still not sure you want to choose between popcorn munching versus mask-wearing—there’s nothing wrong with cosying up and staying home.
Okay. We’re starting with 1917, because if you haven’t watched it already, sit back down and cancel your plans for tonight. Directed by Sam Mendes, this is a film based on the harrowing true story of two British soldiers who, during World War I, embark on a terrifying mission through enemy territory to deliver a vital message to their fellow comrades on the other side.
Shot on multiple formats including IMAX, 70mm, digital, Christopher Nolan produced and directed the incredible tale of Dunkirk, the story of the evacuation of the Allied troops that took place during World War II. The movie portrays this evacuation from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. It follows the heart-wrenching bravery of soldiers that faced horrors with heroism.
This is the true story of Desmond Thomas Doss, played by actor Andrew Garfield, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Doss saved 75 soldiers in the Battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles in World War II, without using or carrying a weapon. This is a movie that will make you question all preconceived notions of what it means to fight for what you believe in.
A tale of love above all else, based on the book written by Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth shows how war was idealised by coming of age boys and girls that volunteered to fight in the first World War, and reminds us of what truly matters when faced with hard distance and change.
An adaptation of James Jones’ autobiographical 1962 novel, directed by Terrance Malick, The Thin Red Line is a cinematographic masterpiece. A group of soldiers face an unlikely battle at the Guadalcanal during World War II, where they fight all odds in order to survive. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and is a must watch.
Based on the memoir of a former Sierra Leonean child soldier played by Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation depicts the rage of an African civil war that tears a family apart, it is a bleak vision of modern warfare. This film is utterly sobering, awakening and uncompromising. Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List is at the top of many film buffs must watch lists. It is the true story of a German industrialist who saved more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. Schindler’s List is often listed among the greatest films ever made.
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Sand Castle follows a young soldier’s introduction to war, as he enters the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Based on the true experience of the film’s writer, Chris Roessner.
Directed by Saul Dibb and based on the best-selling book by Irene Nemirovsky set during the German occupation of France in the 1940s, Suite Française tells the story of finding love in unlikely places, and how it is more powerful than law. Get your tissues ready.
Based on the autobiographical book The Pianist (1946), which is a Holocaust memoir by the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, and how he survived the German occupation of Warsaw and the Holocaust. A truly magnificent film in all ways, and a must watch.