20 Movies To Watch if You're Learning French

When it comes to learning French, vocabulary and grammar are not the only thing you should pay attention to. Watching French speaking movies can be extremely beneficial too.

20 Movies To Watch if You're Learning French image

When I was learning English at school, I remember thinking that two hours a week would never be enough to allow me speak the language fluently. So I decided to start practicing on my own, and one of the easiest (and, let’s be honest, best) way to practice a language if you are a film-lover like me, is to watch movies!

Apart from having a good time, watching foreign movies in their original language with subtitles in that language not only enables you to practice your listening and reading skills, it will also help you learn idioms, vocabulary and turns of phrases that you didn’t know before. Moreover, it’ll teach you the real language: the one people actually speak but you usually don’t get taught in a classroom (unless you learn with Chatterbug?).

I understand that everyone has their own taste when it comes to cinema, but whether you’re into rom-coms, comedies, thrillers or adventure movies, you should be able to find at least one movie that’ll fit your tastes in the list below.

So, without further ado, here are some of the best French movies to watch as a learner and some of my personal favorites* as well :).

Le Grand Bain*

On a tous besoin d’une médaille

Bertrand, a depressive middle-aged man, decides one day to join his local synchronized swimming team trained by Delphine, a former champion and alcoholic.

Why should you watch it?

Because it’s a touching story of hope and friendship, and the actors are glorious.

Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain*

La chance c’est comme le Tour de France : on l’attend longtemps et ça passe vite !

Amélie is not like any other girls, she likes observing people around her with one goal in mind: to make them happier.

Why should you watch it?

Because of the original soundtrack, the wonderful cast, the cinematography, and just for the lovely Audrey Tautou as Amélie.

Starbuck (Canada)*

-Tu sais que je t’aime comme un fils.
-Je suis ton fils.

A 45 year old man who was a sperm donor in his youth finds out that he has unknowingly fathered 533 children - of whom 142 would like to meet him.

Why should you watch it?

Because it’s funny, touching, full of life and original.

L’Auberge Espagnole*

Ah ben bueno, bueno, super bueno. Si, genial !

In order to get an important job at the Ministry of Finance in France, Xavier first needs to learn Spanish. His destination? Barcelona.

Why should you watch it?

To (re)live a year abroad you might have done yourself or look forward to one you might do, to practice foreign languages and simply because it’ll make you feel good.

Persepolis*

Je me souviens à cette époque je menais une vie tranquille et sans histoire, une vie de petite fille.

A young and precocious Iranian girl dreams of changing the world for the better, but her outspoken attitude doesn’t quite fit with the Islamic Republic in place. She is then sent to Vienna at 14 years old for her studies. There, another revolution begins: her teenage years.

Why should you watch it?

Because it is a story like no other, sensitive, deep and aesthetically pleasing.

Intouchables*

Pas de bras, pas de chocolat.

Philipe is a quadriplegic aristocrat. Driss is a talkative former prisoner. After they meet, their lives will never be the same again.

Why should you watch it?

Because it is the story of a formidable friendship, it is hilarious but also very emotional and for the lesson of life it will teach you.

Les Choristes*

Action, réaction !

It’s 1949, and an unemployed music teacher is appointed supervisor in a boarding school with difficult children. But his passion for music might just be the key to discipline them.

Why should you watch it?

Because of the poetic and incredible soundtrack that will stick in your mind for hours!

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort*

Nous sommes deux soeurs jumelles, nées sous le signe des gémeaux.

Two twin sisters working as music and dance teachers dream of meeting the man of their dreams. When a group of stallholders and a sailor arrive in town it might just be that they have finally found what they’ve been looking for for so long.

Why should you watch it?

Because of the whirlwind of colors, the catchy songs and the first scene’s choreography that inspired the movie La La Land…

Pupille

Dans la vie on a tous des champs de mines et des champs de fleurs.

On the day of his birth, Theo is given to the social services. Starts for them a long procedure to make sure Theo will find the right family.

Why should you watch it?

Because it’s a beautiful movie, informative but also very emotional.

Le prénom

Je n’ai pas de cours de prénom à recevoir de quelqu’un qui appelle ses enfants Apollin et Myrtille !

A nice family dinner turns into a violent altercation after they find out that one of them has decided to name his son Adolf.

Why should you watch it?

Because of the excellent acting and the hilarious misunderstanding.

The Artist

1927, Hollywood. George Valentin, a star of the silent movies, develops a relationship with a promising dancer. But with the arrival of the talking pictures, Valentin starts to lose his recognition…

Why should you watch it?

Because it’s a silent movie by a new generation and for Jean Dujardin’s and Bérénice Bejo’s performances, both highly acclaimed by the cinema industry.

La môme

-Vous êtes une grande artiste !
-C’est parce que j’ai mis des talons.

The biopic recounts some of the most important events in Edith Piaf’s life, as a child, a woman and as the great singer that she was.

Why should you watch it?

Because you’ll learn the story of one of the greatest French singers of all time, and to watch what is arguably Marion Cotillard’s best performance in a movie.

Astérix et Obélix Mission Cléopâtre

Pas de pierre : pas de construction. Pas de construction : pas de palais. Pas de palais… pas de palais.

To prove the greatness of the Egyptian civilization, Cleopatra bets with Cesar that her people can build him a palace in 3 months. But Numérobis, the architect designed to supervise the construction, will need the help of an old druid and his friends to finish the project in time.

Why should you watch it?

Because it is the best adaptation of the classic Astérix comic books into a film, and for the incredible puns and jokes.

Les aventures de Rabbi Jacob

Je voyage toujours sans papiers et d’ailleurs je n’ai ni permis de conduite, ni carte grise, ni vignettes, ni assurances ! Arrêtez-moi !

On his way to his daughter’s wedding, Victor Pivert, a rich businessman and a bigot, has a minor car accident. While trying to get help, he ends up getting himself in a lot of trouble, forcing him to impersonate a popular rabbi.

Why should you watch it?

Because it is the most popular of Louis de Funès’s movies and for his one-of-a-kind acting.

Polisse

On a beau tout les jours, faire du cas par cas, c’est pas pour ça qu’un jour on changera le monde ou autre…

Melissa, a journalist and photographer, is sent to the “Brigade de Protection des Mineurs” (BPM), a police division in charge of protecting minors, in order to create a photo book of their daily lives.

Why should you watch it?

Because it is a strong and powerful movie, with fantastic acting.

Ne le dis à personne

Les souvenirs, ça fait mal. Surtout les bons.

Alexandre’s wife was brutally murdered by a serial killer one night. Devastated, Alexandre dwells on her abrupt disappearance for 8 years until one day, he receives an email with a video of a woman looking just like his lost wife.

Why should you watch it?

Because the suspense will keep you hooked till the end.

Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis

C’est le Nord !

The manager of a post office in the South of France is suddenly transferred to Bergues, a small town in the North of France, where no one wants to go.

Why should you watch it?

Because of its original screenplay and its hilarious misunderstandings.

OSS 117 : Le Caire, nid d’espions

-Cigarette ?
-Merci, j’essaie de commencer.

In 1955, Cairo is a real spies’ nest. France’s President decides to send his best agent, Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath - known as OSS 117 - to investigate and bring back order to the prevailing chaos.

Why should you watch it?

Because it’s a fun parody of spy movies, for the dance scene and the cult lines.

De rouille et d’os

J’aimais bien qu’on me regarde. J’aimais bien sentir que je les séduisais, j’aimais bien sentir que je les excitais, mais après… ça m’ennuyait en fait.

Ali, and the son he barely knows, move in to his sister’s basement in Antibes. One night, he meets Stéphanie, a killer whale trainer full of confidence. Their relationship is going nowhere fast until Stéphanie has a dramatic work accident and decides to call him back.

Why should you watch it?

Because of Jacques Audiard’s sublime directing, the poignant story and the perfect acting.

La Belle et la Bête (1946)

L’amour peut faire qu’un homme devienne bête. L’amour peut faire aussi qu’un homme laid devienne beau.

To please his daughter, a man picks up a beautiful rose in a garden, without knowing it belonged to a Beast. Offended, the Beast decides to make him his prisoner, unless his daughter agrees to take his place…

Why should you watch it?

Because it is a real masterpiece, and for the astonishing cinematography and decors.

Et voilà, now all you need is a bag of pop corn and maybe a glass of wine to enjoy some of the best films the French cinema industry has created. But make sure to keep an eye out for the movies to come in the future. After all, France has one of the top 10 biggest film industries in the world. Bon film !

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