French Flicks You Might Actually Enjoy

A list at one of my new favorite blogs,, got me thinking about my own experience with French films.

It’s clear that your average French film greatly differs from your average Hollywood one. The French don’t insist on happily-ever-after Hollywood endings. French films tend toward serious and dark. Or just weird – even from a French person’s perspective. I’ve developed an appreciation for the differences, but sometimes, after watching a French film, I still can’t help but throw my arms up in exasperation.

Here’s a list of things I’ve said after watching French movies with my husband:

  • Is marital fidelity to the Frenchman simply too blasé to be considered as a lifestyle choice?
  • Are French people ever nice to each other?
  • Do French people actually like this movie, or do they just say they do so they seem deep and intellectual?
  • I’ve now spent so much time gazing at my bellybutton that my neck aches.
  • WTF? No, seriously, WTF?
  • I’m going to lie here and stare at the wall. I don’t have the energy to stand or even to cry. There’s no point to life, existence; it’s all empty.

Here’s a list of movies, in no particular order, that did not make me say those things. These are films I have enjoyed and recommend:

Amélie 2001  Whimsical and loveable, with Audrey Tautou. Nominated for 5 Oscars. It’s the French movie most people have heard of, if not seen.

Le Dîner de Cons (The Dinner Game) 1998  Hilarious, albeit a bit mean-spirited. One of the funniest movies I’ve seen. Plus, it has Thierry Lhermitte. Yum.

Après Vous 2003  Charming romantic comedy in which Daniel Auteuil, as nice guy Antoine, comically finds that no good deed goes unpunished.

La Doublure (The Valet)
2006  A valet must pretend to have an affair with a supermodel in order to keep her real affair a secret. With Daniel Auteuil and Kristen Scott Thomas.

Le Placard
(The Closet) 2001  Accountant Daniel Auteuil (I must like this guy) is about to be fired when he gives the impression that he is a closeted gay man, thus saving his job. With Thierry Lhermitte and Gérard Depardieu.

Prête-moi ta main (I Do: How to Get Married and Stay Single) 2006  Luis, a confirmed bachelor, has a mother and five sisters who are determined to see him get married.

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) 2005  About a truce called on Christmas day during World War I. Nominated for Best Foreign Film

And for a completely different tone:

Le Pere Noël est une ordure (“Santa Claus is a Bastard”) 1982 Hilarious + Thierry Lhermitte.

Paris, Je T’aime 2006  Eighteen short films set in the different arrondissements of Paris. Plenty of star power in both actors and directors. Some of the films are weird and indecipherable, some are sweet, some are hokey, some are fun. Overall, really liked it.

Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (The Diving Bell and The Butterfly) 2007  Based on the autobiography of the same name, Jean-Dominique Bauby suffers a massive stroke followed by locked-in syndrome. The book is stunning, well worth the read. Even though he hated his physical therapist. I would too, after reading his description of his experience.

L’Auberge Espagnole 2002  Fun story about cultures clashing, love found, love lost, with the adorable Audrey Tautou in a small role.

Les Choristes (The Chorus) 2004  Beautiful story of a teacher who makes an impact. Nominated for best foreign language film.

La Grande Vadrouille 1966  French comedy that was the most successful film in France until Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis. Great fun with two Frenchmen trying to help the crew of a shot down Royal Air Force Bomber escape German-occupied France.

Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Sticks) 2008  According to Wiki, this broke nearly every box office record in France, including the long held record for La Grande Vadrouille. Hilarious. Great for French language learners, as it pokes fun at regional accents and expressions.

Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement) 2004  Audrey Tautou searches for her fiancé, who disappeared while fighting in the trenches in WWI. Two Oscar nominations.

Hors de Prix (Priceless) 2006  Audrey Tautou (again!) plays a gold digger who mistakes a bartender for a wealthy target.

Delicatessen 1991  Okay this one freaked me out when I first saw it, but on a second viewing when I was older and more accustomed to French humor, this dark-humored, post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie had me cracking up laughing.

Le Papillon (The Butterfly) 2002  Charming story of a widowed butterfly collector and the friendship he develops with his neighbor, a lonely 8-year-old girl.

Rififi 1955  Gritty noir film. Great.

Le Corniaud (The Sucker) 1965  Hilarious gangster parody.

What have I missed? What are your recommendations? Thoughts? I’d love to hear them – always looking for things to add to our Netflix queue!