Looking for ways to keep up your French this summer? Check out a movie from our library to practice your listening comprehension! In the States, foreign language films sometimes get a bad rap for being dull or depressing, but these flicks prove just how untrue that is. The French like comedies - and romances, historical dramas, and cheesy tearjerkers - just as much as anyone else. You may even find it easier to keep up with the action if you are already familiar with the conventions of a particular genre. Much of our collection is available with subtitles in French or English, so you can follow even rapid-fire dialogue! Here are some of our favorite films for French learners who want to go beyond French in Action.

  1. Les Choristes
  2. An earnest choir director comes to teach at a traditional French boarding school for “difficult” boys. Music, mischief, and drama ensue. A heartwarming underdog story perfect for a beginner! Available with English subtitles.

  3. Gemma Bovery
  4. Martin is a baker and literature lover. When English couple Gemma and Charles Bovery move to his small corner of the French countryside, he is immediately struck by her resemblance to a certain character by Flaubert. Can he prevent her from meeting the same tragic end? (Bonus: Gemma is an English speaker learning French, which makes this movie much easier to understand!) Available with English subtitles.

  5. Demain tout commence
  6. A womanizer has his partying lifestyle turned upside down when a past girlfriend hands him a baby - and takes off. Much of the story takes place in London, and Omar Sy’s lovable bilingual daughter will win your heart - in both languages! The perfect feel-good movie to make you laugh, then cry, then laugh again. Available with French and English subtitles.

  7. La cour de Babel
  8. This documentary follows a year in a special class of middle schoolers who have recently immigrated to France. At the Granges-aux-Belles school in the 10eme arrondissement of Paris, these twenty-four students from twenty-four nations learn the French language with the unwavering support of their teacher, Brigitte Cervoni. An inspirational inside look at a band of outsiders. Available with English subtitles.

  9. Amélie
  10. Even if, like many of us, you’ve already watched this for a French class at some point, it’s always worth revisiting! Nearly twenty years after its release, the quirky rom-com that made Audrey Tautou an international star has not lost its charm. Guaranteed to motivate you to study hard so you too can motorbike around Paris. Available with English subtitles.

  11. Les Femmes du 6ieme étage
  12. In 1962 Paris, a wealthy but unhappy stockbroker develops a surprising friendship with the Spanish maids who live and work in his apartment building. Language learning is at the heart of this happy-go-lucky film - not only do the femmes du sixième étage perfect their French, they teach M. Joubert Spanish! Available with French and English subtitles.

  13. La Vie en rose
  14. Marion Cotillard’s performance as Edith Piaf is a true tour de force. You’ll come away with a new appreciation for the real woman behind those catchy classics you’ve heard, but might not really know. Follow up your viewing by checking out her CDs at the library to sing along to in the car! Available with French and English subtitles.

  15. La Folie des grandeurs
  16. Louis De Funes, l'homme aux quarante visages par minute, stars in this cult classic based very, very loosely on Victor Hugo’s novel Ruy Blas. The expressive slapstick comedy of De Funes, one of France’s most beloved comedians, needs no translation, but might help you understand his French a bit better! Available with English subtitles.

  17. Cyrano de Bergerac
  18. Cyrano, though a master swordsman and poet, is too ashamed of his unusually large nose to dare woo his beloved Roxane. Instead, he ghostwrites the love letters of a more handsome suitor. One has brains, the other beauty - who will win her heart? Based on the classic play by the same name, this original storyline might feel familiar. That’s because the premise has made its way into quite a few modern adaptations, from Katherine Heigl rom-com The Ugly Truth to an episode of Bob’s Burgers, and, most recently, Netflix original Sierra Burgess is a Loser. Available with English subtitles.

  19. Le Petit Prince
  20. Celebrate more than 70 years of Le petit prince with this newest, beautifully-animated adaptation featuring famous French voices, including Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel. A classic for children and everyone who has ever been a child. Available with French and English subtitles.

With a world of Francophone cinema in our collection, there are countless options for learners - dramas, comedies, animation, TV, and more! Check out our many honorable mentions:
Do you have a favorite movie for beginners? Suggest it in the comments section!

Elizabeth Taft

Library Assistant

Elizabeth has a B.A. in French from Wellesley College and is studying Library and Information Science at Simmons University. During a year in Aix-en-Provence she hiked Mont Sainte-Victoire, volunteered at a short film festival, and attended France's largest book fair. Her work at the French Library combines her love of language and libraries.

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