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The five most romantic French films of all time

No one makes romantic films like the French do - here are five of the best. And no Amélie is not one of them.

The five most romantic French films of all time
A scene from Heartbreaker. Photo: YouTube/Screengrab
In the mood for a cosy movie night? Here are your best options, from the masters of French film (with English subtitles), Lost in Frenchlation
 
1. Peau d’Âne (Once Upon a Time) by Jacques Demy, 1970
 
A musical fairy tale, starring Catherine Deneuve (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) who is at her most beautiful in this film, and Jean Marais (Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast). Peau d’Âne is about a widowed king who insists that his second wife be as beautiful as his first.
 
As with all good fairytales, the film has its dark side… incest being its main theme. Yet somehow, it still manages to maintain its charm through its genius artistic design, use of colour, and memorable songs. You will either hate it or love it, but you won’t be able to get the haunting main theme song (from the great film score composer Michel Legrand) out of your head.
 
2. La Boum (Ready for Love) by Claude Pinoteau, 1980
 
A drama/teen flick about 13-year-old Vic who is trying to fit in at her new school, but is roadblocked by her parents who won’t let her go to the “boum” (big party). With some help from her grandma, she manages to get there anyway and meets the love of her life, Matthieu…  
 
The film captures the mood of teenage love while avoiding the sentimentality that takes over in American films with similar story lines. Its honesty and depiction of first love, friendship, and family troubles make it something that everyone can relate to. It’s a “classic” for those who grew up in the eighties, and equally loved by people from all generations.
 
3. L’Arnacoeur (Heartbreaker) by Pascal Chaumeil, 2010
 
A romantic comedy starring Romain Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) who runs a business designed to break up relationships. The immoral firm is hired to break up the wedding of a rich client’s daughter (Vanessa Paradis), a strong-minded businesswoman about to marry a charming English man (Andrew Lincoln).
 
Look out for the darkly funny and brilliant prologue at the beginning of the film which sets the story’s tone, as well as the Dirty Dancing scene which is another must-see. It’s the kind of thing Hollywood loves to copy but never manages to do with the required French lightness and elegance.
 
4. 20 ans d’écart (It Boy) by David Moreau, 2013
 
Another romantic comedy about an under-40 fashionista (Virginie Efira) who falls for an appealing yet clumsy student (Pierre Niney). Despite the 20-year age difference (as suggested by the French title), the chemistry between them is perfect. The movie is filled with hilarious scenes about the mismatches in all kinds of life experiences (especially the scene of the couple’s first, quite awkward sexual encounter) and plays to the French stereotype that cougars are both sexy and cool.
 
5. 3 coeurs (3 hearts) by Benoît Jacquot, 2014 
 
A drama about how a tax inspector (Benoît Poelvoorde), his new bride (Chiara Mastroianni) and her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) become caught up in a love triangle (a not-so-uncommon experience in France… according to another stereotype).
 
Featuring amazing performances from the actors, it’s a strong film about love, passion, and chance. This sentimental thriller’s cruelness and tenderness will pull you in two directions at once, making it a movie that needs to be on your list of things to watch.

By Manon Kerjean and Matt Bryan, co-founders of Lost in Frenchlation

 
Lost in Frenchlation hosts screenings of French films with English subtitles at independent cinemas throughout Paris.

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CULTURE

Screenings of French films with English subtitles in July 2022

Paris-based cinema club Lost in Frenchlation is showing two French films with English subtitles this month before taking a well-earned summer break. Here's what's coming up.

Screenings of French films with English subtitles in July 2022

Two events in July are hosted by Lost in Frenchlation, a Paris-based cinema club that offers English speakers who may not be fluent in French the chance to enjoy French films, by screening new releases with English subtitles to help viewers follow the story.

The club has organised two screenings this month – one of them followed by a Q&A with the director, while the other is preceded by a stand-up show – before it takes a well-earned break ready to return in September.

Here are the films you can catch this month.

Friday, July 8th, 7pm

Les Goûts et les couleurs (Not My Type)

Rebecca Marder heads the cast of Michel Leclerc’s smart drama about a talented singer whose dream of recording an album with a 1970s rock icon (a heavily made-up Judith Chemla) threatens to turn sour when the old musician defies phrase and fable and actually dies. 

Her efforts to persuade the old rocker’s closest living relative (Félix Moati) to allow her release the record are complicated by the fact he likes neither his famous kin or her music.

The screening at Club de L’Etoile cinema, on Rue Troyon, will be followed by a Q&A with director Leclerc.

Tickets  (€10, €8 for concessions) are available here

Friday, July 15th, 7pm

Irréductible (Employee of the Month)

Office politics go bad when zealous ministerial inspector Pascale Arbillot reckons without peaceful civil service worker Jérôme Commandeur (who also directs) in this laugh-out-loud comedy. 

Her job is to cut waste and costs; his is to enjoy as quiet and comfortable a career as possible. Unable to get him to leave his ‘job for life’, she transfers him to some of the least hospitable places on Earth she can find… Chaos, as the best movie billings should say, ensues.

The film, at cinéma L’Arlequin, will be preceded by a stand-up show and the chance to enjoy a cocktail or two.

Tickets (€15, €13 for concessions) to the screening and the comedy show are available here

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