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The movies below are great French movies for beginners because they are slow-paced and either have little dialogue, simple and clear dialogue or are about language learning and pronunciation.
1. L’Artiste (2011)
English Title: The Artist
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDb: 7.9 / 10
This is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed movie about the silent movie vs “talkie” movie transition taking place in Hollywood during the late 1920s and early 1930s.
George Valentin is the silent movie star of Hollywood when Peppy Miller accidentally bumps into him and receives national attention. She uses her new fame to audition for a part in a new movie. George Valentin pulls strings and she is introduced to the movie industry. They start falling in love but then she becomes the rising star of the talkies, while silent movies slowly become a thing of the past and George Valentin sees his career and his future on the line and his audience turning to Peppy Miller.
A great French movie for beginners, since there is little dialogue and many subtitles (this IS partly a silent movie after all).
Fabulous performance by Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Béjo.
2. Marie Heurtin (2014)
English Title: Marie’s Story
Genre: Biography, Drama
IMDb: 7.5 / 10
This is the extraordinary story of Marie Heurtin, a blind, deaf and dumb young girl, imprisoned in her dark and silent world, and who is taught sign language in the hand by a nun after many months of struggle.
Outstanding performance by Ariana Rivoire, a deaf French actress.
3. Séraphine (2008)
English Title: Seraphine
Genre: Biography, Drama
IMDb: 7.4 / 10
This is the fascinating yet troubling story of Séraphine Louis – also called Séraphine de Senlis – a poor and strange maid with a great painting talent. She is discovered by a gay German art collector who wants to buy and expose her work – until World War I destroys those plans.
The movie depicts the fine line between genius and insanity. Amazing performance by the lead actress, Yolande Moreau.
4. L’Incroyable Histoire du Facteur Cheval (2018)
English Title: The Ideal Palace
Genre: Biography, Drama, History, Architecture
IMDb: 7.2 / 10
This is the incredible story of Ferdinand Cheval, an ordinary postman, who one day decides to build a palace for his daughter Alice, based on images of exotic postcards and magazines he has to distribute and also inspired by nature.
5. Des Hommes et des Dieux (2010)
English Title: Of Gods and Men
Genre: Historical Drama
IMDb: 7.2 / 10
Algeria, 1995. On the brink of the Algerian Civil War, a group of French monks stationed in a monastery need to decide whether they are going to leave the country for their safety or whether they will continue to serve the local Muslim population, at the peril of their own lives.
This award-winning movie is based on a true story.
Warning: Contains some very graphic violence (beheadings).
6. Je Ne Suis Pas Là Pour Être Aimé (2005)
English Title: I’m Not Here to be Loved
Gerne: Drama, Romance
IMDb: 7.1 / 10
This is the story of a lonely, divorced 50 year old bailiff, Jean-Claude Delsart, whose doctor recommends that he do some physical exercise to keep his heart in shape. Jean-Claude enjoys watching the Tango classes from his office and decides to join.
I personally didn’t like the movie so much because it’s a little slow paced and slightly depressing but it’s a great French movie for beginners, alors voilà! 🙂
7. Le Brio (2017)
English Title: Le Brio
IMDb: 6.8 / 10
This movie is a modern French adaptation of Pygmalion (or My Fair Lady), except that the teacher and student don’t fall in love.
Neïla, a law student, arrives late in one of her classes. Unfortunately for her, the professor, who is “slightly” racist, calls her out and humiliates her in front of all the students.
In order to redeem himself, the director of the faculty forces him to take her under his wings to prepare her for an upcoming speech contest.
This will be an interesting movie to watch for learners of French because French Slang / Street French meets “correct” upper- and middle class formal / standard French.
8. Deux Moi (2019)
English Title: Someone, Somewhere
Genre: Dramedy, Romance
IMDb: 6.5 / 10
Rémy and Mélanie live right next door to each other but in different buildings. They don’t know each other although they frequently go to the same places and sometimes cross paths. Both go to see a psychologist because both are hurt and lonely and trying to meet someone without success. Will they find the way to each other?
9. Au Bout des Doigts (2018)
English Title: In Your Hands
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance
IMDb: 6.3 / 10
This is the story of Mathieu, a young man from the Parisian banlieue who has a great musical talent. Unfortunately, his mother his too poor to afford to pay for piano lessons for her son. One day, as Mathieu plays on a public piano, he is noticed by the artistic director the Music Academy of Paris (Conservatoire de Paris).
Granted, this isn’t a slow paced movie and there is a normal amount of dialogue. However, I found it very interesting because formal French meets French slang throughout the movie and I thought it would be great for you to notice and hear the difference.
You will probably struggle understanding the French street slang but be familiar with the formal French spoken by the upper-class and school staff.
10. Astérix & Obélix: Au Service de Sa Majesté (2012)
English Title: Astérix and Obélix: God Save Britannia
Genre: Adventure, Comedy
IMDb: 5.3 / 10
Okay, I hope this movie will not offend native English speakers but I HAD to include it. The reason being that I’ve often heard students say they understand French spoken with an English accent better than “regular” French spoken by a native.
Well, here’s your ultimate chance to practice listening to French AND understanding it. 🙂
I also really enjoyed the many British stereotypes in this movie. If you’re a Brit, I’m sure you’ll take it with a sense of humor. We love you. 😉