Often referred to as the land of flourishing and everlasting romance, home to iconic designers creating up pleats of fashion innovation and trends and the land of renaissance churches and buildings, France is the rose-tinted dreamscape that always manages to win the fawning and ardent hearts of those who have visited.
And if France is a country you are looking to chalk off the bucket list to put under ‘been to’, here are fourteen movies we recommend casting your eyes on before visiting France to discover and understand the dynamic, local culture and essentially, the fuss about our neighbouring country. Grab the popcorn and your favourite soft blanket and be prepared to fall in love with France.
The follow up sequel to the remarkable movie ‘Before Sunrise’, Before Sunset continues the unfinished dialogue of Jesse (played by Ethan Hawke) and Celine (played by Julie Deply) nine years on after their first meet and long city walk in Vienna. Unable to forget their short-lived time together, Jesse releases a novel and at a book signing in Paris, they reunite.
No longer a pair of juvenile, carefree and spontaneous adults, Before Sunset displays a stark contrast between our two characters after their initial meet, each reflecting on how time has casted change and growth as well as understanding the rarity of finding someone to share a distinctive connection with. Each with their own commitments, the confessional truth of age and adulthood and the rueful reality of a missed opportunity of a lifetime together unfolds through pure and deliberate slow tempo dialogue in an afternoon spent in Paris walking and talking in the glooms of cafes, cobble stoned back-streets and pristine green gardens before time is up for Jesse to catch his flight back to New York.
Before Sunset is a ceremonious marriage of conversation along swathes of sun-stroked, beautiful landscapes, resonating a relatable message that lingers in the back of the mind. Coffee shop explorers, this movie is for you: take note of the hidden and hunched coffee houses to discover your special cup of connection.
Dubbed as an iconic film actress and renown for her elegant fashion style, Audrey Hepburn features in Charade, a romance/comedy released in 1963. Based in Paris, Reggie, who is clad in Givenchy (played by Audrey Hepburn) is set on divorcing her husband however before being able to do so, her husband meets his death by being run over by a train. At the funeral, Reggie learns of her husband’s true identity as an accomplice, playing part in a heist to steal government-protected loot and is harassed by the remaining members who believe she is hiding the money. Reggie turns to Joshua (played by Cary Grant) who claims to be the brother of the fourth member only to later discover there is no fourth member. At this point, Reggie has to decide who to trust, her heart or her intuition?
Filmed in over 80 different Parisian locations, Amelie captures the beauty and mystery of contemporary Paris through the specs of a naïve and juvenile girl rooting for justice by changing the lives of those around her through her very imaginative and creative ideas. Orchestrated beautifully to deliver a screen of pure enchanted joy and tummy-bearing laughter, Amelie has won accolades from top film critics and audiences of all kinds making this a must-watch movie.
A Good Year
Failing to continue his career in investment banking in London, Max Skinner (played by Russell Crowe) moves to Provence, South East France after inheriting his uncle’s vineyard. It is only after his big move that enables him to embark on a new chapter of life finding love and ultimately finding himself, making it A Good Year for Max. A Good Year explores the plush verdant beauty located away from the metropolis mayhem as well as an insight into the artful agricultural landscape in France.
Midnight in Paris
Directed by Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris guarantees tummy-aching laughter and screen splendour in this movie. A night-time stroll alone, along with the quietly hustled streets of Paris, sweeps Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) into the past-time with iconic heroes and bustling jazz music at midnight. The more time he spends revelling in the wonder of the past, his distaste for the present grows large. Midnight in Paris is a mysterious and nostalgic adaptation rediscovering the Paris that once was, making you wonder whether you would want to enjoy the foregone or present-day Paris?
Sweet like chocolate, featuring Johnny Depp as Roux and Juliette Binoche as Vianne, Chocolat carries notes of sweetness and open-minded wisdom through the analogy of chocolate to express sexuality amongst prudes. Finding herself blown into a quiet and conservative village in France, Vianne and her daughter open a chocolatier which soon becomes a local healing sanatorium for the locals as the chocolate become medicines to the varying domestic complications and conditions.
Julie and Julia
For all the foodies who wish to venture into French cuisine or are simply curious about French cooking and would like to feast their eyes on plates of mouth-salivating food and lots of sticks of butter, Julie and Julia is a delectable and fragrant movie for you. Feeling demotivated by the sanity-crunching 9-5 job, Julie Powells (played by Amy Adams) decides to find her solace in cooking by preparing all 524 recipes in Julie Child’s landmark book of cooking, “Mastering the art of French Cooking.”
French Kiss is a bumpy romance movie following a pair of to-wed Canadians, a teacher Kate (played by Meg Ryan) and Charlie (Timothy Hutton) and a supposed degenerate attempting to smuggle stolen jewellery. Learning about her fiancé’s new love interest in France, Kate overcomes her fear of flying to fly to France to confront Charlie only to discover her true love interest is someone else.
A grand showcase of retro Paris, Moulin Rouge is fantasy-fuelled and glitz and tinsel crafted piece of Parisian magic. Star of the show, Satine (Nicole Kidman) has a secret: she is dying of tuberculosis which Christian (Ewan McGregor) and Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) soon learns about leading to the decision to make a show to highlight Satine’s brilliance, beauty and love.
Yves Saint Laurent
For the sartorial savvy and fashion enthusiasts, Yves Saint Laurent is a biographical film documenting the rise of one of fashion’s most iconic designers in history following the bumps and triumphs within his fashion career up until his early death.
Two Days in Paris
Are two days enough to break up a relationship? Two Days in Paris follows Jack (Adam Goldberg) and Marion (Julie Delpy) on their trip to Paris only for the trip to spearhead into turmoil for our on-screen couple. Comical, light and refreshing, this movie premiered in 2007 capturing sentiments against a concentration of French renaissance at every corner.
And God Created Woman
Sexuality should not be restrained however the woman in question in this movie, Juliette (Brigitte Bardot) causes a stir amongst brotherhood and best friends with her erratic and primal behaviour.
The Big Blue
Classified as visually breath-taking, The Big Blue carries a resounding and profound message for the love of the big blue ocean. Considered half human and half oceanic beast, Jacques Mayol competes Enzo Molinari to descend into the deepest pits of the ocean without equipment only to then be distracted by a beauty. Beauty vs Blue, who wins?
Main photo, credit to: Warner Independent Pictures (WIP), Castle Rock Entertainment, Detour Filmproductio