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1) Cyrano de Bergerac
A beautiful, touching, and humorous love story. Cyrano loves Roxanne, but fears rejection due to his overly-large nose.
2) Le Retour de Martin Guerre – The Return of Martin Guerre
Gerard Depardieu plays a soldier who returns to his wife after many years, and has changed so much (in more than just personality) that his wife and neighbors are not sure it’s the same person. A beautiful love story as well as an interesting look at medieval France.
3) Les Enfants du Paradis – Children of Paradise
A classic French romantic movie, by Marcel Carne. A mime falls in love with a theater troupe actress, but faces a lot of competition for her affections. Shot in black and white in 1946 (while Paris was under German occupation), but set in the 19th century.
4) La Belle et la bte – Beauty and the Beast
Look for the original – in black and white – is by far the best. This beautiful, sensual film by Jean Cocteau is about love, inner beauty, and obsession, and is nothing short of a magical fairy tale.
5) Baisers vols – Stolen Kisses
This sequel to 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cent Coups) couldn’t be more different to its predecessor. Antoine loves Christine, who is indifferent until her admirer falls for another woman. Christine then realizes (decides?) that she does want him after all, and tries to woo him back. A movie by Franois Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Laud.
6) Les Roseaux savages – Wild Reeds
Andr Tchin’s 1994 film, set in 1964, is a beautiful coming-of-age story about four teenagers and their experiences with relationships and the effects of France’s war in Algeria. Beautiful cinematography and a great soundtrack. This film won 4 Csar awards.
7) Les Nuits de la pleine lune – Full Moon in Paris
A wonderful romantic comedy and the fourth installment in director Eric Rohmer’s Comedies and Proverbs series. Louise (played by the talented Pascale Ogier, who tragically died the year the film was released) grows bored with her lover and decides to spice up her (love) life. Humor and tragedy ensue.
8) L’Ami de mon amie – Boyfriends and Girlfriends
Another from the Comedies and Proverbs series, this film looks at love and friendship. Which is more important: passion or companionship? Is boyfriend-swapping really such a good idea after all?
9) Au Revoir les enfants
Twelve-year-old Julien (Gaspard Manesse) doesn’t understand why the new pupil in his Carmelite convent school “Jean” (Raphael Fetjo) is bullied by other pupils and protected by the teachers, until the Gestapo arrive.
10) L’Histoire d’Adle H – The Story of Adele H
The true story of Victor Hugo’s daughter and her obsession with a French lieutenant. Sad story, but a beautiful and intriguing movie.
12) Camille Claudel
The troubled life of French sculptor Camille Claudel (Adjani) and her long relationship with legendary sculptor Auguste Rodin (Depardieu) are portrayed in this passionate biographical drama.
13) Les Choristes
When he takes a job teaching music at a school for troubled boys, Clment Mathieu is unprepared for its harsh discipline and depressing atmosphere. But with passion and unconventional teaching methods, he’s able to spark his students’ interest in music and bring them a newfound joy!