Improve Your French

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You can't go out to the cinema, so we'll bring the cinema to you! This collection of hand-picked films offer some of the best releases over the last few years. You'll find superstar actors and bad boy directors in this mix of romantic drama, family dynamics, immigrant tales and erotic thrillers.

What will you watch next?

 

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The Truth

“A legendary movie star’s dubious memoirs outrage her daughter – played by Juliette Binoche – in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s stylish, seductive family drama… Catherine Deneuve gives a seductive and self-aware performance as Fabienne Dangeville, a creamily well-preserved movie star in her mid-70s. ★★★★” – Guardian

This film by Hirokazu Koreeda stars Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve and Ethan Hawke and follows a story that discusses the bounds of motherhood. The protagonist is an actress named Fabienne. She is currently shooting a sci-fi film that has her play the role of a woman who never grows old. While tackling the sci-fi aspects, the film also explores the dynamic of a mother-daughter relationship. While Catherine plays her role with absolute ease, she struggles to play the role of a real-life mother. And this is what has caused a rift between her and her daughter.

 

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

“A radiant vision of 18th-century female intimacy. ★★★★” – Daily Telegraph

Set in the 18th century Portrait of a Lady on Fire follows the story of a woman who is tasked with painting the portrait of a bride-to-be. The challenge is that the bride shouldn’t know of it. So, instead of having sit-ins with her muse, the painter is forced to befriend the bride in order to get a closer look of her. The more days she spends with her, the better shape the portrait begins to take. But that is not the only thing that is progressing here. The painter and the bride form a strong friendship which lands them in a complicated situation before the wedding day arrives.

 

Transit

“In Christian Petzold’s superbly deft drama, a fugitive steals someone else’s identity with deeply disturbing results… brilliant existential thriller works like a dream. ★★★★” – Guardian

When a German man escapes a concentration camp after the Nazi invasion, he assumes the identity of a dead author whose papers he possesses. Stuck in Marseilles, he meets a young woman desperate to find her missing husband – the very man he's impersonating.

 

An Impossible Love

“A daughter’s life is shaped by her father’s arrogance and her mother’s humility, in Catherine Corsini’s brilliantly dark and tender family drama. ★★★★★” – Guardian

Critically acclaimed French drama about a toxic love affair, stars Virginie Efira. It's the  story of Rachel's ill-fated romance with the heartless Philippe.

After they have a baby, Philippe shuns his part in family life and leaves Rachel to bring up their daughter. She forms an unbreakable bond with her child, until Philippe resurfaces, with chilling implications.

 

A Season in France

“The loves and losses of two Africans in Europe. Chadian director Mahamat Saleh Haroun, who lives in France, brings the African experience to Europe in a deeply felt, compassionate film about refugees who find that one of their bitterest abasements is the loss of dignity and status. ★★★★” – Guardian

Two brothers, both academics, flee from the Central African Republic and make do with cash-in-hand jobs in France. This is the story of their new lives. Haroun's soul-searching film focuses on the plight of undocumented asylum seekers desperately trying to find sanctuary in Europe.

 

Mon Roi

“Vincent Cassel is a glorious, wonderful darling cad in Maïwenn’s story of an injured women recalling a past love and his betrayals” – Guardian

Vincent Cassel and Emmanuelle Bercot are star-crossed lovers in this new film from Maïwenn, the director of Polisse.

When Tony is admitted to a rehabilitation centre after a serious ski accident, and dependent on the medical staff and pain relievers, she takes time to look back on the turbulent,  passionate, destructive relationship with Georgio, the father of her child.

 

A Woman's Life

“It’s marvellously done, with mournful aquatint colours, spare music (on what sounds like a spinet) and elliptical tableaux that keep you creatively guessing. Set in 19th century France, Stéphane Brizé’s film plays out with vivid realism. ★★★★” – Financial Times

A powerful award-winning adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's timeless story of love, betrayal and anguish, set in the repressive patriarchal world of early 19th century Normandy.

It traces the fluctuating fortunes of Jeanne Le Perthuis des Vauds (Judith Chemla), an aristocratic landowner in France, through marriage and motherhood.

 

Custody

“Directing child actors credibly is one of the hardest things to pull off. The French writer-director Xavier Legrand manages that particular job so brilliantly it makes his whole film quiver and convulse…Terror tactics and fury blaze in an electric debut. ★★★★★” – Daily Telegraph


Custody
is not, strictly speaking, a horror movie. There is nothing supernatural, nothing especially out of the ordinary, about the force that terrorizes Miriam and her children. It’s Miriam’s ex-husband, Antoine (Denis Ménochet), a man who wears his everydayness like a badge of righteousness. In his own mind, Antoine is a simple fellow with reasonable expectations, whose rage when they aren’t met is surely justified. To everyone else – Miriam, her parents, his children, the audience – he is a ticking bomb, a train hurtling down the track from battery to homicide.

 

L'Amant Double

“The films of François Ozon exist on a heightened plane that should really be called the Ozon Layer. His uproarious latest is an erotic thriller based on the 1987 Joyce Carol Oates novel Lives of the Twins, in which an initially sexually inhibited psychiatric patient embarks on simultaneous affairs with her therapist and his twin brother – who is also a therapist.The shiveringly sexy thriller hits all the parts Fifty Shades couldn’t reach. ★★★★” – Daily Telegraph

Chloe is a repressed young woman who falls in love with her psychoanlyst. When they move in together, everything seems perfect until a series of discoveries lead her to suspect that he may be leading a double life.

 

A Journey Through French Cinema

"Essential viewing for cinephiles and Francophiles alike" – The Times

Writer-director Bertrand Tavernier is truly one of the grand auteurs of the movies. This magnificent, epic documentary has been a lifetime in the making. Tavernier wrote and directed this documentary which looks at some of the most influential figures from French cinema during a period of 40 years up to the late 1970s.

A life-long film fan himself, Tavernier profiles a number of renowned directors, actors and writers as he discusses the influence they have had on his own career and also the role each has played in French cinema history.

Featuring archive clips and rare behind-the-scenes footage, the film focuses on key figures such as Jacques Becker, Claude Chabrol and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

“It would be a shame if the film were to be seen only by those already interested in French cinema. Anyone with an eye for grace, industry, resilience, rich shadows, and strong cigarettes should go along.” – The New Yorker

 

 

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