Love in French films rarely has a Hollywood ending–and that’s why we like them! Here’s our selection of the best films in French currently streaming online that show the complexities and perversities of romance. And don’t forget–you still have a few more days to sign up for our next session of French classes!
Diary of a Chambermaid (Journal d’une femme de chambre)
Benoît Jacquot (2015, France/Belgium), Netflix
This darkly funny adaptation of a 1900 anti-bourgeois novel by Octave Mirbeau tells the story of a young Parisian maid, Célestine, who takes a position working for a wealthy family in the provinces. The mistress of the house is cruel and the master of the house takes every opportunity to sexually harass Célestine (played by Léa Seydoux). Her only possible escape comes in the form of the handsome but deeply cruel master of the stable who wants to take her away…perfect for fans of Downton Abbey who want a darker, less saccharine tale.
Happily Ever After (Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants)
Yvan Attal (2004, France), Netflix
Is monogamy possible? Can a married couple really be happy? Those are the questions in this comedy about three Parisian men who have reached middle age and are questioning their romantic choices. One man is seemingly happily married, but having an affair; one man is stuck in an unfulfilling but faithful marriage; and one man is single and sexually satisfied but hungry for real intimacy. Starring Yvan Attal and his real life wife Charlotte Gainsbourg. Featuring a cameo from French-speaking Johnny Depp!
Young and Beautiful (Jeune et Belle)
François Ozon (2014, France), Netflix
A seventeen-year-old girl loses her virginity in a conventional way (a boy at the beach on summer vacation), but then takes up a very unconventional hobby–high class prostitution. A stylish, beautifully shot exploration of the double-life she takes on as she balances high school and life with her parents with a series of rendezvous with wealthy older men in luxury hotels.