Bonjour mes amis!
I’m off to Paris two months today, so I thought I’d share with you my favourite five French films. So sit back, whack this on for a rather big hint about my number one French film and take notes avec ton stylo…
Synopsis: Residents of a tiny traditional French village are apprehensive when a chocolate shop opens opposite a church. Once they have tasted the divine sweet treats within, however, the villagers begin to trust the mysterious new arrivals, and welcome them into the community.
J’aime ce film parce que: This film smacks of escapism. There are luscious scenes of glossy melted chocolate interspersed with luscious scenes of Johnny Depp looking handsome as Roux, a rogue, rugged river gypsy who falls for chocolatier Vianne. This 2000 screen adaptation of Joanne Harris’ novel shows rural France at its sleepy best, and the community, while cold and suspicious at first, show their sweet, melting centres when it becomes clear that Vianne and daughter Anouk mean no harm.
Synopsis: When a village grocer becomes too sick to work, it is up to his wife and son to maintain the family business. After some initial hitches, his son soon gets into the swing of life as a grocer, and throws himself into driving the van the family use to bring groceries to the petite hamlets of Provence.
J’aime ce film parce que: There are no big scenes of conflict or violent outbursts. ‘Bittersweet’ is probably the best way to describe The Grocer’s Son, with the ache of Antoine’s unrequited love for friend Claire being a constant theme. The quirky characters found in the rolling French countryside provide lots of laughs, including a hard-of-hearing man who repeatedly fails to hear the correct amount he owes Antoine, and the lady who accuses Antoine of trying to murder her when the unstable canopy attached to his van falls on her head.
Synopsis: Father Jean-Do suffers a massive stroke leaving him with locked-in syndrome. He must learn to communicate by blinking his left eye, and decides to go ahead with the book contract he had signed prior to the stroke. With the assistance of a publisher, he painstakingly tells his story letter by letter. Jean-Do reveals his regrets and memories as the film progresses, and we feel his frustration over his laborious method of interaction.
J’aime ce film parce que: The entire film is highly emotive, but doesn’t dwell on the misery of the situation. Of course, there are periods of desperation and frustration, but it doesn’t feel like a sympathy drive at all. There are lots of humorous moments when Jean-Do is lusting over his speech therapist, and there is a particularly tender scene on the beach with his children and their mother. It gives a refreshingly honest, raw account of this relatively little-known disability without relying on overly sentimental clichés, meaning that in his relatively few moments of weakness, we are genuinely moved by the constant struggle faced by Jean-Do.
Synopsis: In 1960s Paris, young mother Jacqueline cares for her disabled son after being abandoned by her husband. Many years later in Montreal, Antoine is a famous club DJ trying to juggle life with his family, consisting of his two daughters and new girlfriend Rose, and his ex-wife Carole. The storylines appear to be largely unrelated for the majority of the film, until the connection between the two plot threads is revealed at the very end.
J’aime ce film parce que: Vanessa Paradis is spellbinding as devoted mother Jacqueline, and the relationship between son Laurent and the object of his affections Véro is enchanting in its cloud of naivety. The character interaction is compelling, with one particularly adorable scene being when Antoine is driving with his family laughing and singing along to the soaring falsetto of Sigur Rós. Every single character is riddled with flaws, from the jealousy of Antoine’s girlfriend Rose to the confused stubbornness of Laurent. It is really two love stories running side by side: between man and lover and mother and son.
Synopsis: Amélie Poulain has come out of a sheltered childhood as a waitress in a Parisian café where she meets a host of intriguing characters. A series of coincidences sparks an adventure where Amélie vows to find the owner of a memorabilia box left in her apartment many years ago. Along the way, she engages in meddlesome activities to change the lives of those around her, always for the better. The film culminates in a wild goose chase around Paris with Amélie leaving clues to enable quirky photo collector Nino to find her.
J’aime ce film parce que: How could my number one French film not be Amélie? Where do you start? Amélie is one of the best known French films with very good reason. The sprawling scenes of Montmartre are hauntingly beautiful, and the attention to detail makes for a very human portrayal of someone with a thoroughly apathetic connection to society. Watching Amélie plunge her hand into a barrel of rice and set free her childhood goldfish gives us a tantalising insight into the life of this quiet, enigmatic woman, and set against a musical backdrop crafted by Yann Tiersen, the film is nothing short of a whimsical, vibrant adventure.
Et voila! My top five French films! Leave me a comment to let me know which films would make your top five and why!