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Learning French

Top French Films every French Language Student should watch

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In learning a foreign language, you will also discover a new culture and new ways of understanding the world. Cinema could be your window to French culture. Whether you take French courses in France or you study French in your country, why not not learn through the cinema. Here is a small subjective selection of French films to see.

Top French Films every French Language Student should watch

French Films For Language Students

Watch French movies subtitled in French. You will learn more this way (vocabulary, structure) and you will get a better understanding of the film. Afterwards, you can study new vocabulary! Enjoy the film and don’t forget the popcorn!

1 – La haine (Hatred)

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz

Release date: 1994

Cast: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé

A French cult film of the 1990s, Hatred is inspired by a true story about a police blunder in the suburbs of Paris. The film, in black and white, tells the story of a day of four friends and draws a merciless perspective of the French suburbs. Watching this film, you can study the French slang and popular expressions of the 1990s which are for some always topical. It is also a film that allows a view of social reality, the social system which you can discuss during your French course in France. Even if the film takes place 20 year ago, it still echoes true today in France.

2 – Intouchables (Untouchables)

Director : Olivier Nakache

Release date: 2011

Starring : Omar Sy, François cluzet

This film was a huge success in France and worldwide. A beautiful story of a friendship between two characters from completely different worlds. A very funny French film that raises questions about our perception of differences. In your French course, after watching this film, you could discuss these differences and learn the current French slang.

3 – Le dîner de cons (Dinner with Schmucks)

Director: Francis Weber

Release date : 1998

Starring : Jacques Villeret, Thierry Lermitte

One is always a sitting target of someone else… A French film taken from a successful play, this comedy uses the classic toys of comedy and French vaudeville : lovers, mistresses, misunderstandings, rapidly unraveling situations, and a final moral that overturns the initial judgement. This is an ideal film to study the theater and its special characteristics. With this film you can learn how to crack jokes in French !

4 – Léon

Director : Luc Besson

Release date : 1994

Starring : Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Nathalie Portman

This thriller turns violent and emotional as it plunges us into the daily life of Léon, a professional, cold, and efficient killer. The life of Léon takes a new direction after he meets Mathilda, a twelve year old girl. It should be noted that the role of Mathilda is interpreted by Nathalie Portman, her first role at just thirteen years old. Through this French cult film, you can study the vocabulary of romantic relationships.

5 – L’arnacoeur (Heartbreaker)

Director : Pascal Chaumeil

Release date: 2010

Starring : Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis

A romantic comedy in which a professional hired to break up a couple falls in love with the young bride. The film alternates between classic scenes of sweetness and comedy. An easy to watch film.

6 – Un Prophète (A Prophet)

Director : Jacques Audiard

Release date : 2009

Starring : Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup

Winner of the Grand Prize at the 2009 Cannes film festival, A Prophet addresses the issue of French prisons, or how a young inmate will carve his niche and survive in this prison hell. A realistic and difficult French film that has been rewarded with numerous awards. Tahnks to this film, you could study the great international film festivals during your French course.

7 – Astérix et Obélix : Mission Cléopâtre (Asterix and Obelix meet Cleopatra)

Director : Alain Chabat

Release date : 2002

Starring : Gérard Depardieu, Christian Clavier

A 5 star cast for this successful adaptation of the comic book of Asterix and Obelix. Mission Cléopâtre tells the story of an eventful voyage of two invincible Gallic warriors in Egypt to assist the architect Numérobis, who has three months to build a palace for Caesar and show the power and strength of the Egyptian people. This film full of humor, is perfect to learn familiar vocabulary. Many French still tell jokes from this film.

8 – Le nom de la rose (The Name of the Rose)

Director : Jean-Jacques Annaud

Release date : 1986

Starring : Sean Connery, Christian Slater

In 1327, after the disappearance of several Benedictine monks, a Franciscan monk and his novice conduct an investigation into a world where the Church sees its power crumbling and is menaced by a rediscovery of the writings of antiquity that will lead to the humanist renaissance decades later. A medieval thriller in an atmosphere of the Inquisition, the film offers a realistic reconstruction of the life of monks of that time period. With this film, you can study historic facts.

9 – Mesrine : L’instinct de mort/ Mesrine : L’ennemi public numéro 1 (Mesrine1 /Killer Instinct and Mesrine 2 /Public Enemy #1)

Director: Jean-François Richet

Release date : 2007 et 2008

Starring : Vincent Cassel, Cécile de France, Ludivine Sagnier

This two part police biopic recounts the life of a criminal who would become the public enemy #1 in the 1970s. From his return from the war with Algeria to his first robberies, his travels and his numerous crimes in Canada to his numerous escapes from prison, these two films give a glimpse into the complex personality of the most infamous French criminal. Thanks to this film during your French course in France, you will learn to present a historic figure, their emotions and personality.

10 – Garde à vue (The Inquisitor)

Director: Claude Miller

Release date : 1981

Starring : Lino Ventura, Michel Serrault, Romi Schneider

A breathless thriller that matches face to face two of the greatest actors of the last century. The film recounts the custody of a lawyer one New Years Eve, brought in to give his testimony in a sordid case of the murder of two little girls. Satisfied that they have the culprit, the two inspectors try to get him to confess…until his wife testifies. An ideal French film for working with questions, you can play along and learn how to be a real French police officer !

Thanks to these French films, you will learn to discover new aspects of French society. Going from laughter to tears (get out your tissue), during your French course in France, you will yourself become an actor. Study French thanks to the magic of the 7th art !