French learning does not have to be dull and tiring. Luckily, there are ways to simplify and make it more enjoyable. You can enhance your language skills and get a head start on your practice by watching French movies.
There are clear advantages to learning French by using films as a tool.
Watching films in your target language is the perfect solution if you want to go further on your language-learning journey. They are an easy and fun way to remember and require little to no hard work.
It is more engaging for audiences because it is more entertaining than reading a book or attending a lecture. A simple method is listening to typical native people speaking in everyday situations.
It demands time and struggle to pick suitable films from the French-speaking world for learning.
I’ve taken care of all the research, saving you the trouble. Here is a compilation of the 36 best French learning movies for you.
But before we continue, there’s something we must address.
Table of Contents
How does watching films help in learning French?
There are countless benefits to using movies for language learning. Films are more enjoyable compared with traditional strategies. You’ll have a better time if the story, theme, soundtrack, location, or star cast appeals to you.
If an activity doesn’t feel boring, you’re more prone to stay put and give it your full attention.
Movies have subtitles. For example, if you read a word or phrase in your mother tongue or English. Then, hear it in French, and you’ll better understand it.
The audio is the icing on the cake. When characters speak in their own voices, it helps them recall and memorize their words. This technique is called shadowing.
Authentic language helps you tune your ear for French. The talks contain many unfamiliar terms and sentences. They are more convenient because of context, recall, and accessibility.
The dialogues are in natural settings and cover a ton of valuable phrases. Thus, it also sweetens your pronunciation and accents.
There is a strong connection between culture and language. French films offer insights into Francophone customs, festivals, and culture.
The best way to immerse yourself is by watching French films. It assists in the growth of your career prospects in French-related domains. Whatever reasons you may have, you will improve your French skills.
Paying more focus to this is crucial for French language lovers. You won’t realize what you’re missing until you consume French media.
Imagine a French institute that promises to teach you the language in 24 months. Films can help decrease the time frame to 18 months.
Can movies alone help you learn French?
The short answer is no.
Watching movies in French can be a valuable tool for learning the language. They can provide lessons on grammar, sentence structure, informal conversation, everyday slang, and colloquial.
You can expose yourself to various accents, varieties, and regional dialects by watching films from different regions.
Films can enhance your understanding of the language and culture. Still, they may not be sufficient on their own to master French.
Combining movie-watching with other learning methods can give the best and most beneficial results. For example, you can take offline or online courses, read books, practice speaking, and use French apps for learners.
Where to enjoy movies for French learners?
Various websites and online streaming services offer films, TV series for learners, dramas, short stories, documentaries, music, and videos.
Paid platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Disney, Hulu, and others offer access to these movies. YouTube, Viu, Vimeo, and other online video sites are free.
You can learn French by watching movies online from the comfort of your home. With the internet and OTT platforms, finding something for everyone at your fingertips is effortless.
36 must-watch films for French Learners
Watching flicks in French is a fun and practical approach to improving language abilities. It strikes the flawless balance between fun and education. This break is both enjoyable and deserving.
If you’re trying to improve your language skills, these 36 French movies are perfect. Whether you are at a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level, there is something for everyone to enhance their French aptitudes.
(i) Best French movies for Beginners Level
For new French learners, starting with movies with simple language is essential.
These flicks have clear dialogues and relatively easy-to-follow plots. If you are at DELF A1 or A2, these films can help you improve your language skills.
So, let’s start with movies that can help beginner-level students studying French. Here are some top ones in no particular order.
1. La Famille Bélier (The Bélier Family), 2014
La Famille Bélier is a comedic drama about a hard-of-hearing girl with a musical talent.
This feel-good comedy-drama is about a family of deaf parents and their hard-of-hearing daughter. He had dreams of becoming a singer. It deals with family, love, and the challenges of living with a disability.
The dialogue is clear, and the story is engaging. A must-watch for French learners.
2. The Intouchables (Les Intouchables), 2011
The Intouchables is a heartwarming comedy-drama based on a true story.
It follows a wealthy man with a spinal cord injury who hires a young man from the projects as his caregiver. The film deals with themes of class, friendship, and disability, and the dialogue is rich in colloquial expressions and slang.
This film has a simple dialogue for French learners. It addresses themes of friendship and overcoming challenges.
3. Le Petit Nicolas (Little Nicholas), 2009
This family-friendly film is based on the popular children’s book series “Le Petit Nicolas.” The stories spin around the misadventures of a young boy named Nicolas and his friends.
It uses simple language suitable for beginners. A novice learner can easily comprehend the story with little difficulty.
4. Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Sticks), 2008
This is a comedy that explores cultural differences between northern and southern France. Directed by Dany Boon, who also stars in the film, it became one of the highest-grossing French films ever.
The movie explores themes of regional stereotypes and cultural differences humorously and heartwarmingly.
For French learners, “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” offers an entertaining way to practice listening skills and immerse themselves in everyday French. It is suitable for the elementary level.
5. Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon), 1956
This acclaimed film is known for its simplicity, charm, and imaginative storytelling. Despite its brief runtime, “Le Ballon Rouge” has left a lasting impact and has been celebrated as a classic of French cinema.
This classic French short film is about a young boy and his magical red balloon. The cinema beautifully captures the bond between the boy and the balloon, blending elements of fantasy and reality in the streets of Paris.
The minimal dialogue makes it accessible for beginners. The film’s cultural depiction of Paris and its timeless themes offer a unique and enchanting way to connect with the French language and cinema.
6. Kirikou et la Sorcière (Kirikou and the Sorceress), 1998
An animated film suitable for all ages, “Kirikou et la Sorcière” tells the story of a young boy named Kirikou.
Michel Ocelot directed it, based on a West African folktale. It is renowned for its unique animation style and engaging storytelling. The movie is suitable for both children and adults.
The language is simple, and the visuals are captivating. The film’s engaging narrative and visually appealing animation create an enjoyable language-learning experience.
7. Les Aventures de Tintin: Le Secret de la Licorne, 2011
Les Aventures de Tintin: Le Secret de la Licorne is an animated adventure film based on Hergé’s classic comic series.
The story follows Tintin, a reporter, who buys a model ship called the Unicorn. This leads him to uncover a hidden treasure and involves a villain named Sakharine.
Tintin and his dog Snowy team up with Captain Haddock to solve the mystery behind the Unicorn and the Haddock family’s maritime history. They embark on a journey that takes them from Europe to North Africa and involves thrilling chases and a quest for hidden treasure.
The language is relatively straightforward, and the plot is exciting. The dialogue is clear and suitable for a broad audience, making it accessible for learners at different levels, including basic.
8. Les Triplettes de Belleville (The Triplets of Belleville), 2003
Les Triplettes de Belleville is a unique and charming animated film with minimal dialogue but rich visual storytelling.
It has received acclaim for its creativity and was nominated for many awards. E.g., the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
The story revolves around Madame Souza, an older woman, and her grandson Champion, a young boy passionate about cycling.
It’s suitable for beginners who want to enjoy a quirky narrative. This film provides a delightful opportunity for learners who enjoy animated films with a touch of whimsy and creativity.
9. Ma Vie de Courgette (My Life as a Courgette), 2016
This animated movie revolves around a young boy living in a foster home.
The story is about a young boy, Courgette. His mother died, and he was sent to an orphanage. He was shy but gradually formed bonds with the other children at the orphanage. Then, he encounters kindness, friendship, and the possibility of adoption.
A new girl, Camille, arrives, forming a special connection and adding a layer of complexity to Courgette’s world.
The language is clear, and the film deals with themes of friendship and resilience. The film’s themes and character interactions provide a rich context for language practice.
10. Ernest et Célestine, 2012
If you haven’t watched Ernest & Celestine yet, you’re missing out on a fantastic animated comedy-drama film. With Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, and Benjamin Renner at the helm, this is an absolute masterpiece you won’t regret watching.
So, grab some popcorn, sit back, and let the film take you on a journey of laughter, emotions, and pure joy! The story moves around the unlikely friendship between a mouse and a bear.
Watch the film with French subtitles to reinforce your vocabulary and improve your listening skills. The dialogue is clear and suits learners at various levels, making it an excellent choice for French practice.
11. À l’intérieur (Inside), 2017
This film is a brutal and intense horror. It involves a pregnant woman named Paradis, who is attacked and invaded by a mysterious stranger named Dalle, who wants to take her unborn baby.
Mainstream critics gave the film positive reviews upon its release, especially horror film reviews.
In “Inside,” the main characters speak standard French and are ideal for upper beginners. Still, there are some moments of intense emotion where the characters use more informal language.
(ii) Best French movies for Intermediate level
For intermediate French learners, you can explore movies that offer more complexity in terms of language and plot.
Try to use French subtitles when seeing. You can explore movies with various genres to expose yourself to diverse words and accents. You can also discuss films to enhance your language-learning experience.
These films often provide an opportunity to expand your vocabulary and comprehension skills. If you prepare for B2 of DELF, TEF or TCF, these will fit you.
Here are some French movies suitable for intermediate learners.
12. Amélie, 2001
Amélie or Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain is a whimsical, romantic comedy set in Paris. It is known for its unique visual style and creative storytelling.
This charming and quirky film tells the story of a young woman named Amélie, who works as a waitress in Paris. She is on a quest to spread joy, leading her on a voyage where she finds true love.
The movie is an excellent introduction to French culture and language. It offers rich, poetic dialogue and a mix of everyday language and creative expressions.
13. Paris, je t’aime (Paris, I love you), 2006
This anthology film explores love stories set in different neighborhoods of Paris.
The film is a collaborative project featuring contributions from various international directors, each presenting a unique story that explores the theme of love in the City of Light.
It features various directors and styles, exposing different accents and vocabulary. The diverse stories expose different accents, colloquial expressions, and cultural nuances.
14. La Gloire de mon Père (My Father’s Glory), 1990
“La Gloire de mon Père” (My Father’s Glory) is a 1990 French film directed by Yves Robert. Based on Marcel Pagnol’s autobiographical novel, this film captures the charm of Provence.
The film is the first part of a two-part adaptation, with the second part being “Le Château de ma Mère” (My Mother’s Castle).
For French learners, it allows them to immerse themselves in French within a heartfelt and nostalgic narrative. The simple dialogue enables us to engage with everyday French as spoken in a specific regional setting.
15. Les Choristes (The Chorus), 2004
“Les Choristes” is a heartwarming drama about a music instructor who transforms the lives of troubled students.
The film is set in post-World War II France. It revolves around a music teacher who transforms the students’ lives at a reformatory school through the power of music. This flick is known for its heartwarming story, beautiful music, and memorable performances.
The language is accessible, and the story is engaging. The musical elements add an extra layer to the learning experience. It allows learners to appreciate the beauty of French through song and dialogue.
16. La Haine (Hate), 1995
This is a gritty drama that explores social issues in the Parisian suburbs.
The film is set in the aftermath of a riot in a Parisian suburb. It follows three friends—Vinz, Saïd, and Hubert. They came from different ethnic backgrounds and navigated their challenging environment while grappling with issues of identity and frustration.
The language is colloquial and reflects contemporary urban French. The film is intense. Yet, it thoroughly analyzes a specific cultural context’s language and social realities.
17. L’auberge espagnole (The Spanish Apartment), 2002
“L’Auberge Espagnole” is a 2002 French-Spanish film directed and written by Cédric Klapisch. The title translates to “The Spanish Apartment” in English.
The film is a comedy-drama that explores the experiences of a young French student living in a multicultural apartment in Barcelona as part of the Erasmus student exchange program.
The film includes a mix of French, Spanish, and English, offering language diversity. Its multilingual dialogue provides a unique language-learning experience for French learners.
18. La La Land, 2016
Set in Los Angeles, it narrates the story of Sebastian and Mia, two individuals with dreams of success in the entertainment industry. It is a love story of a jazz pianist and an ambitious actress in Los Angeles.
Even in the original version, some scenes and songs like “City of Stars / Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” are in French. These brief moments allow viewers to hear and engage with the language.
This romantic drama is more advanced. It is challenging for intermediate learners. It allows you to enjoy a familiar story while practicing the language.
19. Dear Mother (Cherchez la femme), 2020
This is a 2017 French comedy film directed by Sou Abadi. The film revolves around Armand, a young man living in Paris with his conservative family.
Armand’s life takes a dramatic turn when he falls in love with Leila, a young Muslim woman from a family of Algerian immigrants.
The film portrays the language used by young people in urban France. It has various linguistic features that reflect the diversity of French society, including different accents and regional variations.
While this is an American film, the French-dubbed version, “La La Land – Une Histoire d’Amour,” allows you to enjoy a well-known movie in French.
20. Le père Noël est une ordure (Santa Claus Is a Stinker), 1982
“Santa Claus is a Garbage Man” (Le Père Noël est une ordure), released in 1982, is a French comedy film directed by Jean-Marie Poiré and based on a play by the same name.
The story occurs on Christmas Eve when a group of misfits works at a suicide hotline office. They are bombarded with strange phone calls and unexpected visitors, including a man dressed as Santa Claus, who turns out to be a garbage collector.
The film is known for its absurd and dark humor, a French comedy staple. It explores the theme of social alienation and the absurdity of modern life. It is viewed as a classic by French cinema with a cult following.
21. Le Dîner de Cons (The Dinner Game), 1998
“The Dinner Game” (Le Dîner de Cons), a French comedy film released in 1998, is directed by Francis Veber and is based on a play by the same name.
The story revolves around a weekly dinner party where guests are challenged to bring the most stupid person they can find. The person who brings the stupidest guest is declared the winner.
The film is known for its clever and witty dialogue, which is delivered with impeccable timing. It explores the theme of human behavior and the different ways people interact with each other.
22. Les Misérables (Les Miserables), 2012
This French crime drama is set in the suburbs of Paris. It deals with themes of social inequality, police brutality, and the effects of immigration on French society.
In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades had been hunted by the relentless police officer Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker’s daughter. Their lives change ever after this.
The dialogue is rich in slang and colloquial expressions. This makes it a brilliant opportunity for intermediate learners to expand their vocabulary and comprehension skills.
(iii) Best French movies for Advanced Level
For advanced French learners, you can challenge yourself with movies that feature complex dialogues and nuanced storytelling.
You can view flicks with a higher level of French language proficiency. Something like DALF C1 and C2.
Here are some French movies suitable for advanced learners.
23. La Double Vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Véronique), 1991
“La Double Vie de Véronique” (The Double Life of Véronique) is a 1991 French-Polish film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski. The film is known for its poetic and enigmatic storytelling.
The flick follows the parallel lives of two women, Véronique and Weronika, who are identical strangers living in two cities—Paris and Kraków. While unaware of each other’s existence, their lives are interconnected by a mysterious and metaphysical bond.
The flick exposes the French language and culture, as part of the film is set in France. The rich but contemplative dialogue contributes to the film’s reflective tone.
24. Amour (Love), 2012
“Amour” is a 2012 French-language drama film written and directed by Michael Haneke.
The film is known for its poignant exploration of love, aging, and the challenges a long-married couple faces in the later stages of life. It got critical acclaim and won the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
The French flick allows one to engage with the language in a deeply emotional and thought-provoking narrative. The dialogue reflects everyday French spoken by native speakers.
25. Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats), 2010
“Les Amours Imaginaires” (Heartbeats) is a 2010 Canadian-French romantic drama film written and directed by Xavier Dolan.
The film explores love, desire, and complexities of romantic relationships through the intertwined stories of two close friends, Marie and Francis, who become infatuated with the same man.
The film allows you to explore the emotional nuances of relationships. The film’s conversational dialogue enables learners to connect with the language spoken by young, urban characters.
26. Caché (Hidden), 2005
The “Caché” (Hidden) is a French psychological thriller written and directed by Michael Haneke. It is known for its enigmatic narrative, unsettling atmosphere, and quest for guilt and personal responsibility.
The dialogues are complex and suitable for advanced learners like DALF C1 or C2. The characters engage in conversations touching personal, political, and historical themes, exposing various vocabulary and expressions.
27. Le Prénom (What’s in a Name?), 2012
This French comedy-drama follows a group of friends discussing their children’s names. It becomes a heated argument, revealing each character’s personality and hidden secrets.
“Le Prénom” is primarily a comedy about the dynamics of relationships and the impact of words, particularly when choosing a name for a child.
It’s an excellent way to improve your French listening skills and learn about French humor. The film’s dialogue is lively, and the banter between characters allows for exposure to colloquial expressions and humor.
28. Demain Tout Commence (Two Is a Family), 2016
This heart-warming French comedy-drama follows Omar Sy as Samuel, a carefree man living in the south of France.
He becomes the sole caregiver of his young daughter when her mother leaves them. His life takes an unexpected turn when a former lover leaves him with their infant daughter, Gloria.
It’s an incredible way to improve your French listening skills and learn about family values in France. It covers lots of modern and everyday French in the context of a heartwarming and entertaining story.
29. La Belle Époque (The Beautiful Era), 2019
The film stars Daniel Auteuil and Fanny Ardant. It explores nostalgia, love, and the desire to revisit the past.
La Belle Époque is a romantic comedy-drama that follows Victor. He is a disillusioned man who hires a company to recreate historical events to relive the day he met his wife for the first time.
It’s an outstanding way to enhance your French terms and comprehension of conversational French. The dialogues are rich and emotionally charged, providing a range of expressions and vocabulary.
30. Léon: The Professional, 1994
Caché is a classic crime thriller directed by Luc Besson. It is one of the must-see movies for French learners.
The story revolves around Léon, a skilled, solitary hitman in New York City. His tightly isolated life takes an unexpected turn when he meets Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl whose family has been brutally killed by corrupt DEA agents led by Stansfield.
The film is mainly in English. It has French dialogue, mostly during scenes involving Jean Reno’s character, Léon. You get to hear authentic French from a native speaker. It has a mix of colloquial and street language.
31. Oxygène (Oxygen), 2021
Oxygène is a French science-fiction thriller film. The plot revolves around a woman named Liz, played by Mélanie Laurent. She wakes up in a cryogenic pod with no memory of how she got there.
As she struggles to find a way out, she realizes that she only has a limited amount of oxygen left. She must race against time to reveal the truth about her identity and how she ended up in her current situation.
Oxygen is an ideal example of a standard modern French used in film. It has some technical terminology related to science and space exploration. The film is suitable for the advanced level.
32. Haute Tension (High Tension), 2003
“Haute Tension” (High Tension) is a 2003 French horror film directed by Alexandre Aja. This is known for its intense, suspenseful atmosphere and graphic and violent scenes.
This flick falls within the slasher and psychological horror genres. It is about two friends stalked by a mysterious killer.
The characters speak standard French with some colloquial language and slang. The dialogue includes expressions and vocabulary related to fear and suspense.
33. Grave (Raw), 2016
“Grave,” also known as “Raw,” is a 2016 French-Belgian horror movie written and directed by Julia Ducournau.
The film is known for its provocative tale, blending elements of horror, coming-of-age, and psychological drama. It is a horror movie about a young vegetarian who grows a taste for human flesh.
In “Raw,” the characters speak standard French. It often uses academic or scientific language related to the study of veterinary medicine.
34. Sentinelle, 2021
“Sentinelle” is a French action thriller film. It follows the story of Klara. He is a highly trained French soldier who returns home to Nice after a traumatizing mission in Syria. While on leave, she learns her sister has been brutally attacked and left in a coma.
Determined to seek revenge and find the attacker, Klara takes matters into her own hands. He embarks on a violent and dangerous journey through the criminal underworld of Nice.
The language in this French cinema is a mix of standard and informal French. This is typical for many contemporary French films.
35. Martyrs, 2008
“Martyrs” is a 2008 French-Canadian horror film written and directed by Pascal Laugier.
The film is notorious for its extreme and controversial content. It has a reputation for being one of the most disturbing horror movies ever made. This is about a young woman who is tortured by a cult.
The main characters in “Martyrs” speak standard French, but the cult members speak a more archaic and formal French. It uses expressions related to fear, survival, and existential themes.
36. Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, 2002
Released in 2002, this French comedy film is based on the famous comic book series “Asterix” by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo.
With over 14 million tickets sold in France alone, it is one of the most successful French films ever.
The story follows the Gaulish hero Asterix and his sidekick Obelix as they help Queen Cleopatra build a new palace for Julius Caesar.
The film is known for its witty dialogue, which is delivered rapidly. The conversation is comedic and has playful interactions between characters.
Final Words on Learn French with Movies
Learning French through movies is an engaging and enjoyable way to immerse yourself in the language.
From drama and action to romance and animation, you can choose a variety of genres. You can expose yourself to diverse genres to improve your vocabulary, accents, and cultural contexts.
You can also use subtitles to reinforce your speaking and listening skills and improve your reading. You can view the films again and take notes to enhance your experience.
Don’t rely totally on movies to learn the language. To create a complete learning plan, combine resources like books, podcasts, French language apps, and language exchange.
As you’d expect, fluency demands more than watching flicks. You’ll need a time-tested learning approach to make you speak French effectively.
That’s what LanguageNext offers — an array of French language lessons. We have both offline and online French lessons. There is something for everyone.
Do you have any favorite films that you can suggest for French learners and readers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!