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Archive for April 20th, 2008

This is by no means intended to be a comprehensive “best of” list of French film in general.

I should preface this by saying that I took nearly nine years of French classes. For a few years, I was really blessed to have a teacher that felt we not only needed to learn the language, but vital elements of French culture as well. French film was a staple in our classroom, and I cannot thank that teacher enough for exposing me to all the wonderful films that she did show us.

So, in no particular order, here are my favorite French films of all time that I feel give a good feel for French film across the ages that I thoroughly enjoy and recommend (and have recommended) to people.

  • LA HAINE (Hate) — 1995

La Haine is the story of three friends in a Parisian banlieue (French for ghetto, colloquially speaking) and I don’t have a better way of describing this film other than a Molotov cocktail to the face. It was renowned in France when it was first released for its depictions of violence and police brutality; it still remains a hallmark in my French film collection simply because of how powerful the movie is. It also is one of several stellar collaborations between Mathieu Kassovitz (dir: Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Crimson Rivers, Gothika – sadly) and Vincent Cassel (Ocean’s 12, Derailed).

The movie spans 24 hours in the lives of the three friends, one of whom is hospitalized after suffering a vicious incident with the police. His two friends roam the streets after the night of a huge riot in Paris with reserves of anger, malice and discontent built up after years of discrimination.

I seriously view La Haine as a landmark film, period. It made a huge impact on me as a teenager.

  • LES PARAPLUIES DE CHERBOURG (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) — 1964

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg is a musical. Don’t let that throw you off; this movie ranks as one of my top five of all time easily. Guy and Genevieve are young and in love when Guy is called up to serve in the French Army for the war in Algeria. His two year term seems to be a lifetime to the pair, and after Guy leaves, Genevieve discovers she is pregnant. Genevieve’s meddling mother and a jewels dealer named Roland do little to help already complicated matters.

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