10 Must-See Movies in French (With Language Hacking Notes)

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10 Must-See Movies in French (With Language Hacking Notes)


Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. ?

Watching movies to help with your language learning missions is really effective.

One of the main reasons I study languages is to get an inside view of the culture. Movies are a perfect lens to peek through when you’re learning how another culture works. What’s more, unlike textbooks, movies help you get to grips with how a language is used and spoken in the real world.

The following French films will give you insight at the language and culture of French speakers. They’re perfect for when you want a break from intense study. But remember, foreign language movies are most helpful when you study them properly.

1. L'Auberge Espagnole (“The Spanish Apartment”)

movies-spanish-apartment

Released: 2002
Directed by: Cédric Klapisch
Suitable For: Expats and study abroad students

IMDB Average Rating: 7.3 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77%

The Story
A straight-laced French student studies abroad in Spain and has his life changed through meeting other international students from around Europe.

Language Hacker’s Notes
I have a deep affinity for this story of an Erasmus (Europe’s study abroad programme) student studying in Spain, since I had spent so much time in Spain with Erasmus students when I first started on my language learning journey. This film is like looking at a pivotal time in my own life, and brings back lots of great memories.

It’s also my top recommendation for polyglot movies, as you’ll hear some dialogue in multiple languages (Spanish, English, Catalan, German, Danish & Italian), although the core of it (including the voiceover) is in French. For bonus points, check out its sequel Les Poupées Russes.

2. Le Dîner de Cons (The Dinner Game)

diner de cons

Released: 1998
Directed by: Francis Veber
Suitable For: Those into comedy and #revengeporn, where mean people get their comeuppance.

IMDB Average Rating: 7.7 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating:73%

The Story
A group of friends compete against one another to try to find the stupidest person they can to bring to dinner. It backfires though, as the guest unintentionally starts messing up his host’s life, always with the best of intentions.

Language Hacker’s Notes
The “con” (dimwit) has several misunderstandings and you can figure them out easily enough. The story is hilarious but not extremely complex, so it’s pretty easy to follow, but would require subtitles for many.

3. The Intouchables

movies-the-intouchables

Released: 2011
Directed by: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Suitable For: People who love to laugh and cry at the same time

IMDB Average Rating: 8.6 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating:75%

The Story
A street-wise young man becomes the caretaker for a quadriplegic aristocrat.

Language Hacker’s Notes
The intersection of straight forward street slang with cultured high level French makes this movie an ideal viewing experience for French language learners.

4. Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (“Amélie”)

movies-amelie

Released: 2001
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Suitable For: People who like a happy ending

IMDB Average Rating: 8.4 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89%

The Story
One woman decides to make a positive change in the lives of those around her.

Language Hacker’s Notes
This film presents a positive look at French daily life, and provides insight into a lighter side of being human. This is the movie that inspired me to move to Paris for 9 months!

5. Bon Cop Bad Cop

movies-bon-cop-bad-cop

Released: 2006
Directed by: Erik Canuel
Suitable For: Fans of Quebecois and Buddy Cop Films

IMDB Average Rating: 7.0 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 67%

The Story
Two cops from different Canadian provinces must work together to solve a crime, where a man is found dead exactly on the border between Quebec and Ontario.

Language Hacker’s Notes
This film is gold for those who want to hear a good dose of the Quebecois French accent. The Ontario cop speaks great Parisian French, so it’s an entertaining look at the funniest differences between these two accents and cultures in the French speaking world. Prominent use of English also makes this a great ease-in before you dive into 100% French movies.

6. Kirikou et la Sorcière (“Kirikou and the Sorceress”)

french-movies-kirikou

Released: 1998
Directed by: Michel Ocelot
Suitable For: Families and Children

IMDB Average Rating: 7.5 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%

The Story
An amazing child in West Africa goes on a quest to stop an evil sorceress.

Language Hacker’s Notes
This family-friendly animated story based on West African folklore has easy to understand dialogue combined with rich visuals and a compelling story.

7. Les Visiteurs (“The Visitors”)

french-movies-les-visiteurs

Released: 1993
Directed by: Jean-Marie Poiré
Suitable For: Fans of Historic Comedies

IMDB Average Rating: 7.0 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating:33%

The Story
A medieval nobleman and his squire are accidentally transported to 1993 and must enlist the help of his descendant to find a way back home.

Language Hacker’s Notes
The fact that this movie is the highest grossing native film in French history means that you will instantly be “in the know” when you hear people quoting this film. The most interesting part of the film is how characters using an older version of French try to make sense of the landscape of modern French usage.

8. La Marche de l’Empereur (“The March of the Penguins”)

french-movie-la-marche

Released: 2005
Directed by: Luc Jacquet
Suitable For: Families and animal lovers

IMDB Average Rating: 7.7 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%

The Story
Follow the migration of emperor penguins as they march to their traditional breeding grounds.

Language Hacker’s Notes
You may know of this documentary already, but it was first made for a French audience. Be sure to pick up the original French version of this film, which, unlike the American-released version (narrated by Morgan Freeman), has voice-over dialogue between penguins. Clear and understandable French makes this great for beginners.

9. La Grande Vadrouille

french-movies-la-grande-vadrouille

Released: 1966
Directed by: Gérard Oury
Suitable For: History Buffs

IMDB Average Rating: 8.0 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%

The Story
A British pilot shot down over France during World War II is helped by a group of French civilians to make an important rendezvous.

Language Hacker’s Notes
This film is an education on French stereotypes – both for the non-French characters in the movie, and for viewers. It’s full to bursting with cultural gems.

10. La Femme Nikita

french-movies-nikita

Released: 1990
Directed by: Luc Besson
Suitable For: Fans of action films

IMDB Average Rating: 7.4 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating:88%

The Story
A felon slated for murder finds herself enlisted to become a covert assassin and spy.

Language Hacker’s Notes
This classic French action film by one of France’s most popular directors, Luc Besson, has spawned not only a U.S. remake (“Point of No Return” with Bridget Fonda), but also two different television shows. It’s a great introduction to Besson’s work and a fun way to learn “spy talk” in French.

What's Your Favourite French Movie?

With all of these movies you should have no problem getting in some French practice while being thoroughly entertained.

If you have a favourite French movie that I’ve missed, please share it in the comments. I’d love to hear about your must-watch French films.

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Benny Lewis

Founder, Fluent in 3 Months

Fun-loving Irish guy, full-time globe trotter and international bestselling author. Benny believes the best approach to language learning is to speak from day one.

Speaks: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Dutch, Irish

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