French film blog: France’s American-style romcom you need to see this month

French cinema has always had a healthy obsession with love, but are romantic movies going down the Hollywood route? Khaila King from Lost in Frenchlation examines the evidence.

French film blog: France's American-style romcom you need to see this month
Still from new French romcom Mon Inconnue. Picture Mars Distribution

Married and in love, Raphael and Olivia have been together for 10 years.

However, everything sweet turns sour after the high school sweethearts have a devastating argument, resulting in Raphael waking up to a parallel universe where Olivia is no longer his “one and only.”


Two films on a similar theme, one British, one American

He has the opportunity to live out the single days he missed out on for so long, but the absence of Olivia makes him realise that he cannot live without her. Now he is met with the challenge of getting his wife, who is now a stranger, to fall in love with him for a second time.

Does this story sound familiar? If it does you’ve probably seen Channing Tatum follow the same objective in the The Vow or any other American romcom following the same guise.

However, this is not an American blockbuster, this is the story of the newly released French romcom Mon Inconnue (Love at Second Sight).

Although France is known to be the home of the city of love and romance, when it comes to movie production, viewers are starting to feel that their romance films are falling short of authentic French influence and adopting typical American narratives instead, which raises the question: “Are French romance films becoming more American?”

With Hollywood and American film production being at the height of the film industry, there is no surprise that French directors and screenwriters are embracing the American love story guidelines and clichés to appeal to a wider audience.

In 2017 alone, Hollywood brought in $43 billion (€38 billion) in revenue and the numbers just keep climbing.

It’s possible that French movie production has become a part of the capitalistic game of “money over subject matter.” 

In reality, there's only so many ways two people can fall in love, but it’s left up to the creative thinkers behind the scenes to deliver audiences the new twists and unpredictable plots that they crave.

But the American romcom, The Vow, released in 2012, and Mon Inconnue are similar, still have their differences.

Mon Inconnue blends genres of sci-fi and romance, as it is set in a parallel universe, while The Vow is a story inspired by true events.

Delivering reality and fantasy are far from the same, but depicting love will always follow some type of pattern.

To keep its French touch, Mon Inconnue shows multiple scenes set in Paris with a healthy dose of those heart wrenching moments of intimacy and bits of cheesy humour that we all know and love.

Mon Inconnue sets itself apart from other rom coms by mixing the familiar with the unfamiliar and fantasy with fiction, remaining a must watch for the romance cinephiles of both France and the rest of world.

To watch Mon Inconnue with English subtitles, don’t miss the Lost in Frenchlation screening on May 3rd in the heart of Montmartre. Click here to find out full details of the event. 

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Asterix: Five things to know about France’s favourite character

Asterix is hitting the box offices again, so to celebrate here's a look at France's most treasured hero.

Asterix: Five things to know about France's favourite character

If you have walked past a bus stop anywhere in France in recent weeks, then you have likely run into film posters advertising Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom.

Starring high-profile French actors Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel, France’s film industry is hoping that this film, capitalising on France’s nostalgic relationship with the comic series “Asterix” will bring box office success.

The Asterix comic book series was first published in 1959, and tells the story of a small Gallic village on the coast of France that is attempting to defend itself from invaders, namely the Romans. Asterix, the hero of the series, manages to always save the day, helping his fellow Gauls keep the conquerors at bay.

As the beloved Gaulish hero makes his way back onto the big screen, here are five things you should know about France’s cherished series:

Asterix is seen as the ‘every day’ Frenchman

“Asterix brings together all of the identity-based clichés that form the basis of French culture”, Nicolas Rouvière, researcher at the University of Grenoble-Alps and expert in French comics, told AFP in an interview in 2015.

READ MORE: Bande dessinée: Why do the French love comic books so much?

The expert wrote in his 2014 book “Obelix Complex” that “the French like to look at themselves in this mirror [of the Asterix series], which reflects their qualities and shortcomings in a caricatured and complacent way”.

Oftentimes, the French will invoke Asterix – the man who protected France from the Roman invaders – when expressing their resistance toward something, whether that is imported, American fast food or an unpopular government reform.

The front page of French leftwing newspaper Libération shows President Emmanuel Macron as a Roman while Asterix and his team are the French people protesting against pension reform.

The figure of ‘a Gaul’ is a popular mascot for French sports teams, and you’ll even see people dressed up as Asterix on demos. 

A man dressed as Asterix the Gaul with a placard reading “Gaul, Borne breaks our balls” during a protest over the government’s proposed pension reform, in Paris on January 31, 2023. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

Asterix is the second best-selling comic series

The series has had great success in France since it was first launched in 1959, originally as Astérix le Gaulois. It has also been popular across much of Europe, as the series often traffics in tongue-in-cheek stereotypes of other European nations – for example, caricaturing the English as fans of lukewarm beer and tasteless foods.

Over the years, Asterix has been translated into more than 100 languages, with at least 375 million copies sold worldwide.

It remains the second best-selling comic series in the world, after the popular manga “One Piece”.

There is an Asterix theme park 

The French love Asterix so much that they created a theme park, located just 22 miles north of Paris, in the comic series’ honour in 1989.

The park receives up to two million visitors a year, making it the second most visited theme park in France, after Disneyland Paris. With over 40 attractions and six themed sections, inspired by the comic books, the park brings both young and old visitors each year. 

READ MORE: Six French ‘bandes dessinées’ to start with

The first French satellite was named after Asterix

As Asterix comes from the Greek word for ‘little star’, the French though it would be apt to name their first satellite, launched in 1965 after the Gaulish warrior.

As of 2023, the satellite was still orbiting the earth and will likely continue to do so for centuries to come.

Asterix’ co-authors were from immigrant backgrounds

Here’s become the ‘ultimate Frenchman’, but both creators of the Asterix series were second-generation French nationals, born in France in the 1920s to immigrant parents.

René Goscinny created the Asterix comic series alongside illustrator Albert Uderzo. Goscinny’s parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland. Born in Paris, René’s family moved to Argentina when he was young and he was raised there for the majority of his childhood. As for Albert Uderzo, his parents were Italian immigrants who settled in the Paris region.

Goscinny unexpectedly died at the age of 51, while writing Asterix in Belgium. From then on, Uderzo took over both writing and illustrating the series on his own, marking Goscinny’s death in the comic by illustrating dark skies for the remainder of the book.

In 1985, Uderzo received one of the highest distinctions in France – the Legion of Honour. Uderzo retired in 2011, but briefly came out of retirement in 2015 to commemorate the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who were murdered in a terror attack by drawing two Asterix pictures honouring their memories.