Discover French cinema before studying in France
French films not only give you a chance to practice your language skills when studying at Université Catholique de l’Ouest, the SKEMA Business School in Nice, or the Paris French language program, but they also reveal France’s rich filmography. French cinema is more than simply an hour and a half of entertainment. It’s long been an art form through which to explore deep themes, showcase a filmmaker’s unique vision, and put French culture on screen. Embrace the best of French cinema by exploring classic and modern French films. Here are just a few to consider watching.
This quirky, sepia-tinged movie is a French modern masterpiece. It stars Audrey Tautou as a server who finds lost treasure and discovers a love of creating fateful situations that bring people together. Through this, her own love story begins, and you fall into her fantastical, dream-like world.
Shot around the bars of Montmartre, it’s a filmmaker’s vision of Paris, yet feels like it could be the capital 50 years ago. Get swept up in the magic of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s romantic vision. It’s a wonderful introduction to French cinema for any SAF student. You can also visit Café des 2 Moulins in Montmartre, where Amélie works in the film.
Breathless (À Bout de Souffle)
Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 debut feature film launched French New Wave cinema and brought with it a high-energy piece of filmmaking still revered today. Featuring Jean Seberg as an American student and Jean-Paul Belmondo as a tough guy on the run, Breathless is a young love story.
The monochrome images, jazz music, and naturalized language stood in stark contrast to the stuffy studio movies being released in the late 1950s. This more experimental style of filmmaking naturally influenced future Hollywood directors, and it makes Paris look cool. If you’re planning a trip to Paris as part of your study time in France, watch this before you go.
A Trip to the Moon
Georges Méliès 1902 film is just 15 minutes long, yet it’s had a lasting legacy as a milestone of early cinema. The vision of the moon with a space capsule stuck in its eye is iconic. This and the other special effects astonished those who watched it at the time, and it became an international hit.
Creating a fantasy film full of magic and a narrative plot was ground-breaking, and it unleashed the potential of cinema. Georges Méliès was a filmmaker and magician who created over 500 films, and, due to budget constraints, starred in most of them, too. This one is his most famous work and is well worth a watch. Georges is also the subject of Martin Scorsese’s fantasy adventure film Hugo, which is a thoroughly enjoyable film.
One of the most popular films in France is this 2011 comedy drama about the unlikely friendship between Philippe, a rich man with a spinal cord injury, and his streetwise carer, Driss. Based on a true story, the two lead actors, Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet, give incredible performances with real chemistry.
Some critics felt the script leans into some predictable film tropes, but there’s no denying the film’s big emotional punch and the love it received from audiences across France. You will laugh, cry, and laugh again at this box office smash.