As a Francophile, I’ve always loved French film and TV. During my undergraduate honors year at university in Melbourne, I even wrote a thesis on the subject. But cultural affinity aside, watching French movies and TV series can be a great way to improve your language skills.
As someone who is learning the language, I try to listen very carefully while reading the subtitles to associate the words I’m hearing with the translation on the screen. This might sound like work, but when there are entertaining storylines and beautiful scenery, learning the language is made so much easier.
So whether you’re a Francophile, trying to learn French, or both, here are my favorite French films you can watch on Netflix right now.
I’m Not an Easy Man / Je ne suis pas un homme facile
I’m Not an Easy Man is a romantic comedy about a chauvinistic bachelor who suddenly finds himself propelled into a parallel universe where stereotypical gender roles are reversed.
In this matriarchal society, he struggles as he experiences sexism for the first time and falls in love with a strong, dominant woman. While the film does perpetuate certain gender stereotypes, it is fantastic in the way that it exposes the sexism women face daily and makes you wonder what life would be like if the roles were reversed—while also remaining light-hearted and comical.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly / Le scaphandre et le papillon
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a biographical drama based on a memoir of the same name written by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Bauby was the editor-in-chief of cult French fashion magazine Elle until he had a devastating stroke at the age of 43.
This is an excellent, poignant film that earned Julian Schnabel the award for Best Director at Cannes and the Golden Globes, and Mathieu Amalric, who plays Bauby, a César for Best Actor. The film was also named Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes.
Delicacy / La délicatesse
Delicacy is a romantic comedy based on David Foenkinos’s bestselling novel of the same name. David directs the film with his brother, Stéphane Foenkinos. The film stars famous French actress Audrey Tautou as a Parisian executive whose perfect life falls apart when her handsome husband is killed in a traffic accident. After three years, she unexpectedly falls for an awkward, middle-aged, balding Swede who works for her. While it may seem somewhat implausible that she would go for him, like most Audrey Tautou films, Delicacy is quirky and hard not to love.
Declaration of War / La guerre est déclarée
Declaration of War is a drama about a young couple, fatefully named Roméo and Juliette who learn that their young son has a brain tumor. The film is based on the real-life events of its director, Valérie Donzelli, and her then-partner Jérémie Elkaïm. Together, they wrote and star in the film. The greatness of this film lies in the fact that, despite the heavy subject matter, it is an “undoubtable force of happiness” (Le Monde).
To Each, Her Own / Les goûts et les couleurs
To Each, Her Own is a romantic comedy about Simone, a young woman from a conservative Jewish family who believes she’s a lesbian and has a secret girlfriend. But, just as she’s about to come out to her family, she finds herself attracted to a man. The film follows Simone’s confusing and difficult quest to understand her sexuality while also exploring issues such as religion, race, and family, all in a light tone.
Blind Date / Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglément
Blind Date is a romantic comedy about a reclusive puzzle maker whose treasured silence is disrupted when a passionate pianist who can’t live without music moves into the apartment next door.
This cute and quirky film follows the two as they struggle to coexist on either side of their adjoining wall. Eventually a relationship develops, despite the fact they have never seen each other, proving that opposites do in fact attract.
Stay tuned for our round-up on Netflix series for francophiles.
- Visit 5 movie locations in Paris.
- Check out our favorite Paris podcasts.
- Read about learning French in Paris.
Written by Ali Postma for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.