Top 8 Must-Watch Foreign Films

By Julia Matuszek, Video Editor

With AP testing right around the corner, and finals coming soon after that, binge-watching movies and procrastinating are inevitable. Chances are you feel as though you have already watched everything that’s worth watching on Netflix. But, here are some foreign films I bet you have maybe never heard of or have never given the time to watch.

1.) Cold War (2018) Rated: R (Poland)

This Polish film focuses on the relationship of Zula, played by Joanna Kulig, and Wiktor, played by Tomasz Kot. Although the two are complete opposites of one another in all aspects, they still fall in love. Their personalities are difficult and challenge the relationship, and to add to that the Cold War is occurring in the backdrop of their romance, which only complicates yet also intensifies their love. Together they endure time apart, war, prison, discrimination, and complicated family structures. This movie although simple in dialogue is complicated in emotion.

2.) Life is Beautiful (1997) Rated: PG-13 (Italy)

Charismatic yet poor Guido, played by Roberto Benigni, falls in love with the kind, yet rich Dora, played by Nicoletta Braschi (Fun fact: the two actors are married in real life!). Due to their social class and cultural differences, Guido and Dora have a rough time getting their relationship started, but they eventually succeed. And they even have a child, named Giosue, played by Giorgio Cantarini. Just as it seems as if they can finally breathe, and will live happily ever after World War 2 starts and Guido and Giosue are taken to a concentration camp. Dora quickly joins them willingly (as she is not Jewish), yet there are still separated from her due to gender. During their time in the concentration camp, Guido, in order to distract Giosue, comes up with the idea that in actuality they are playing a game to win an army tank. Giosue, of course, wanting to win this tank, does all he can to help to “win” aka survive. In this movie, the audience is reminded that even in the roughest of times, you can always find laughter and positivity somewhere, somehow.

3.) The Intouchables (2011) Rated: R (France)

Phillipe, played by François Cluzet, is a quadriplegic and needs constant help. As he is interviewing people, Driss, played by Omar Sy, walks in, cuts everybody in line, and demands Phillipe to sign his form that proves he is looking for a job so that is able to get his unemployment check. Phillipe is intrigued by Driss, and offers him a temporary job, depending on how he does. Driss accepts and although the two could not be more different, with Phillipe being an older, white, millionaire and Driss being a young, black, poor man, the two get along like best friends. Through their differences, the two are able to learn from each other, and both walk away better for it.

4.) Wild Tales (2014) Rated: R (Argentina)

This film is made up of six short films, that although are unrelated, are all focused on the theme of revenge. All six of the short films, start off normal and as they go on, they take a crazy turn, that nobody sees coming. Of these revenge stories, one is by a man who feels he was too criticized his whole life, one is from a girl who lost her family because of a loan shark, one is between two angry drivers, one is about a worker who is mad at his town, one is a man who found out his son was responsible for a hit and run accident, and one is a bride who found out her now-husband was cheating on her. Although these may sound boring, I promise you this movie is the farthest thing from boring, with every story getting more intense, more dramatic, and more unbelievable than the last.

5.) Amélie (2001) Rated: R (France)

Amélie, played by Audrey Tautou, grew up in a very odd household, forcing her to build up a wild and intricate imagination in order to entertain herself. She didn’t lose that imagination as she grew up though, carrying it with her as she moved to Paris to work as a waitress. Amélie is also a people-watcher, and although she is always invested in people’s lives, she is never involved in them. That is until she finds a box full of memories behind her television and decides to return it to the original owner. When she finally finds them, she is able to inspire them to go reconcile with their estranged daughter and finally meet their grandchild. After that, she vows to dedicate her life to doing acts of kindness, and she does. And while doing so, she runs into Nico, played by Mathieu Kassovitz. Amélie is attracted to Nico and decides to plants clues for him so they can meet again. This movie is unlike any other movie I have ever seen, it’s light yet heart-warming, it’s serious yet funny, it is truly a one of a kind movie.

6.) Faces Places (2017) Rated: PG  (France)

This documentary focuses on director Agnes Varda and photographer J.R. who decide to travel around France and takes pictures and portraits of people they encounter. As Varda and J.R. get inspired, they begin to make murals and art installations using these pictures as a homage to the people and the places they have encountered.  Throughout their trip, Varda and J.R. (who have a major age difference as well as way of thinking) begin to get close and build a unique, yet entertaining relationship.

7.) Mommy (2014) Rated: R (Canada)

After the death of his father Steve Després, played brilliantly by Antoine-Oliver Pilon, was placed into a detention center by his mother Diane Després, played by Anne Dorval due to his intense, violent outbursts. After getting kicked out of numerous centers, Diane decides she needs to care for Steve herself, in order to give him the best shot at life. Her decision to do so forces her to start working at home, which only complicates her life. As Diane and Steve are working through their issues, which include Steve’s Oedipus complex with his mom and violent outbursts, they also form a relationship with their neighbor. Their relationship with the neighbor, Kyla, played by Suzanne Clément, helps both families normalize their lives. This movie is a beautiful reminder that family loves each other, through thick and thin.

8.) Instructions Not Included (2013) Rated: PG-13 (Mexico)

Playboy Valentín Bravo, played by Eugenio Derbez, gets the surprise of a lifetime when a former fling of his named Julie, played by Jessica Lindsey, shows up with a child she claims is his. Much to Valentín’s surprise, Julie says she is going to run off and pay the taxi, but in reality, she just runs off leaving Valentín with a child he had no knowledge of before. As Valentín travels to the US in order to find Julie, he saves Maggie (his child) from drowning in a pool, and while doing so, gets hired as a stuntman by a film director. Valentín accepts the job in order to be able to provide for Maggie and he decides to step up and raise her as a single father.

Over the years, Valentín and Maggie, played by Loreto Peralta, become extremely close and Valentín drops his playboy past. During Maggie’s entire childhood Valentín has written letters to her from her mom. Eventually, Maggie asks to meet her mom and as Valentín is looking for actresses to hire, Julie appears. Julie decides to take Valentín to court to fight for full custody. Valentín wins at first but after Julie proves he is not Maggie’s biological dad, Valentín and Maggie run off back to Mexico. Julie eventually finds Valentín and Maggie but drops the case due to Maggie’s worsening health. Although this film is marketed as a comedy, it is also a heart-warming story about love, sacrifice, and the true definition of family.

At the time of this post, Faces Places is available on Netflix. Cold War, Life Is Beautiful, The Intouchables, Wild Tales, Mommy, and Instructions Not Included are available on Amazon Prime. And unfortunately, none of the 8 films are available on Hulu.