French films are great in aesthetics and content. The industry has produced some of the world’s most rich cinema that has marked different eras of time. Here are a few of the most amazing French films you must definitely not miss:
The Passion of Joan of Arc
One of the most phenomenal works in cinema to ever be made. This is a silent film about the trial of Joan of Arc. The film was shot with immense attention to the detail of the art and properties to make it believable. The setting makes it a work of exquisite craftsmanship. Rich with performances, and frames that capture all the difficult struggles of the protagonist, this film is a masterclass in documenting human isolation and the quest for living an idealistic life. Watch this film at least once to experience the penetrative potential of cinema.
The story of a woman, an oddball who tries to navigate her life. She is a shy waitress who struggles with her own isolation and in the process attempts to make life bearable for those who she meets along the way. Her observations are active and visceral. She grew up alone and hence she develops a very vivid imagination to cope with her loneliness. Through her, the film reveals things about everyday life that are so strikingly beautiful but overlooked by most of us. The brilliance of the film lies in how it shows us bits of our lives and surroundings that we do not care to notice. It puts forth the fact that we need to be more mindful of our days and nights because if we try to, we can find the hidden beauty in everything.
This is a crime drama by Jean-Luc Godard. He is undisputedly one of world cinema’s most extraordinary film makers. This is one of his best works that revolves around a wandering criminal and his American girlfriend. The frames, cinematography, and performances are absolutely immersive. The making is penetrative enough to take you into the psyche of the characters in ways that you would never see coming. Watch this film to experience the brilliance of Godard, a defining craftsman of cinema.
One of the most romantic films of all time, Amour is a lovely film that is an ode to love. It focuses on an elderly couple who have a daughter who lives away from them. The couple, who are both retired music teachers go through difficult times when the woman has a stroke. The film is a staggering reflection of old age, and the relevance of love when people near the end of life. The romance is something that has passed time and crisis, making it a profound friendship between two people who have seen the best and worst of each other. Moving and extremely poignant, this is poetry on screen.
A poignant film in the history of world cinema, this is a black and white film that follows the relationship of a young upcoming actress and an older actor who used to star in silent films in yesteryears. Their relationship also documents the change in Hollywood films from silent to talkies, and through them, it showcases the aspirations, changes and inner workings of actors who worked in both these phases of cinematic transitions. Rich in performances and craft, this film was appreciated by critics and film buffs alike.
Van Gogh (1991)
Based on the last few months of the phenomenal Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, this film documents his struggle for survival and his never-ending eye for beauty. Van Gogh is an artist that the world cannot forget. He was also a tormented individual with many complex layers, which reflected in his art as well. Poverty, mental health battles and many intricacies determined his outlook towards life. He created for us, art that lives after his. The film captures all these dynamics of Van Gogh’s life with absolute brilliance.
Blue is the Warmest Colour
Considered as a defining, iconic film of all times, this is the story of a teenage girl who falls irrevocably in love with another woman, an artist who inspires her to be free and true to herself. She discovers fire, freedom, and her own self-actualization through the relationship. The film was one of the very few that depicts lesbian love without judgment, stereotypical portrayals, or unnecessary sensationalism. It is appreciated by critics and fans alike. It is an experience that will definitely not disappoint, rather, one that will usher you into the beautiful recesses of the minds of the characters.
Celine and Julie go Boating
A witty, charming fantasy, this film follows two women Celine and Julie. They meet at a park and enjoy each other’s company so much that they move in with each other. Afterward, they devise a fun plan to swap identities and live each other’s lives for a while, among other things. The film has themes of magic and abandons depicted with sharp cinematic beauty. The inner lives of women, their longing for magic and to live a life being everything they want to becomes through with humor and clarity. It is a cinematic experience that makes you think about the various ways in which women try to escape their restricted existence to slip into a world that lets them be.
La Vie En Rose
This is an intense, beautiful, and unforgettable piece of cinema that documents the life of French singer Edith Piaf. Edith already has a life that was rich with diverse experiences. Tragic, dense, and musical, the film begins with events from her childhood and extends into the days before her death. It is made with immense care to stay true to the legendary singer’s life and art. Marion Cotillard stars as Edith and her stunning performance won her the Oscar for Best Actress, the first time the award was presented to an actress for a French origin role. Watch this film for an experience that is so penetrative that you will certainly wish you had watched it much earlier!
This is a drama that revolves around a man who falls in love with a married woman. He is a tugboat captain who has a seriously ill wife and a child. The film is very atmospheric and captures the nuances of love and desire with a striking complexity. The performances are deeply moving as is the cinematography that makes no judgments about the characters. The timelessness of the film lies in the fact that it is very descriptive of how people feel when they transgress lines that they know could turn out to be catastrophic.