The Reel: Five Must See French Movies Available To Stream On Netflix
Heartbreaker (original title L’arnacoeur) – 4 /5 stars
Alex Lippi (Romain Duris), his sister (Julie Ferrier) and her husband run a business designed to break up relationships. How do they do it? Alex shows us up and makes the women fall for him by showing them that he is a much better match than their fiancé only to withdraw at the end by giving a touching story about how he is too heartbroken and damaged to be the one. How she deserves so much better. The group is hired by a rich man to break up the wedding of his daughter played by Johnny Depp‘s ex partner Vanessa Paradis, with an English millionaire played by Andrew Lincoln. Yes our dear zombie killer Rick Grimes. Because Lippi and his team are being threatened by gangsters for a major debt, they have to take the job even though it goes against their number one rule to never breakup couples who are genuinely in love, and they are given one week to complete the job. Much of the fun in the movie is in the ingenious tricks the team uses to follow Paradis’ movements and give Duris the opportunities to seduce her.
Heartbreakers is the type romantic comedy that Hollywood loves to copy but never manages to do with the required lightness and elegance.
I Do (original title Prete-moi ta main) – 3.5/5 stars
41 year old Luis Costa is an immature bachelor and successful creator of perfumes who enjoys his one night stands and has no intention to get married. Luis is part of an oppressive large family ruled by his loud mother and five sisters who one day decide that it’s time for Luis to get married and try to find a wife for him among their friends. After a series of failed encounters with his sister’s friends Luis plots a scheme to hire the sister of his best friend to pose as his fiancée and to leave him at the altar on the day of their marriage hoping that his family will leave him alone. However his plan fails when his family falls in love with Emma; and when she does not show up to marry him, his mother has to go to the hospital and he ends up being blamed by his sisters. Now Luis hires Emma again to act like a bitch to make his family hate her. Meanwhile Luis falls in love with Emma.
I wasn’t expecting much from this movie mostly because I didn’t know any of the actors, and I had never heard of it. It didn’t disappoint, it is a typical French rom com with great witty sarcastic humor. it was a lot better than I expected.
Mesrin: Part 1: Killer Instinct & Mesrine: Part 2: Public Enemy #1 – 5/5 stars
This movis tells the story of the legendary French gangster of the 1960s and 1970s Jacques Mesrine who came to be known as French Public Enemy No. 1 and The Man of a Thousand Faces. The French press called him ‘the man of a thousand faces’ due to his ability to change his looks so often to evade the police.
The film, told in two parts, opens with a seventies style feel and begins at the end before returning us to the start where we see a young Mesrine in the army fighting in the Algerian war, on his return to his native Paris he quickly becomes entangled with Guido a mafia boss played by Gerard Depardieu (another French actor to follow). Throughout the movie Mesrine rises to become the career criminal that became an embarrassment to the French police and government. The movie follows his criminal career from bank robberies to kidnap, general violence to daring prison escapes and in a complete juxtaposition we see the family man, the charmer and the comedian.
I love French comedies and romantic comedies, and I think the French are the best at making these two genres. Action or gangster movies however haven’t been their strongest suit so when my brother recommended to watch Mesrine, I was very skeptical. To my surprise the movie was excellent. It was actually one of the best gangster movies I have ever seen; and I have seen a lot of them, at least all the famous ones such as Scarface, Casino, Good Fella, Blow. There is something about this movie that is raw, real and a bit scary because of that. It’s probably the lack of that “Hollywood” element that’s often comprised of the dramatic music, and the over the top explosion behind the “man”. Vincent Cassels’ portrayal of Mesrine is funny, disturbing, charming, psychotic and more. Honestly watching this movie I thought he was the baddest gangster ever, because he was just crazy and willing to do anything. You’ll see him be a good loving father in one scene, and in the next he’s beating up a journalist close to death. Mesrine’s notorious stories are so unbelievable at times that apparently the filmmakers left parts out thinking the audience would think it was just too far fetched. After watching a few of his escapades I didn’t believe them either until I did some research. Yeah, this guy was Bad ass crazy and didn’t give a crap! But it could also be because the French government just wasn’t that good and experienced with people like him. Just a thought.
The Closet (Le Placard) – 5/5 stars
François Pignon (Daniel Auteuil) , a very bland sort of man who works as an accountant in a rubber factory, is about to be fired. His new neighbor comes up with an idea to help him keep his job. The plan is to spread the rumor that he’s gay so that the factory management might be afraid they’ll be sued for sexual discrimination. Throughout the movie you see a series of characters who are eventually transformed as they try to interact with François. This movie is beyond funny and is a true gem. I’m surprised Hollywood hasn’t tried to make their version yet.
The Intouchables (Les Intouchables) – 5/5 stars
In Paris, the aristocratic and intellectual Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is a quadriplegic millionaire who is interviewing candidates for the position of his care taker, with his red-haired secretary Magalie. Out of the blue, the rude African Driss (Omar Sy) cuts the line of candidates and brings a document from the Social Security and asks Phillipe to sign it to prove that he is seeking a job position so he can receive his unemployment benefit. Philippe challenges Driss, offering him a trial period of one month to gain experience helping him. Then Driss can decide whether he would like to stay with him or not. Driss accepts the challenge and moves to the mansion, changing the boring life of Phillipe and his employees.
This movie surprised me in so many ways. Firstly, it is the first Americanized French movie I had ever seen and it was well executed. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about Let’s compare it to the last French movie I watched before that one at the theater, The kid With The Bike, in which there is no background music. yeah, that’s a typical French movie, and the Intouchables were so opposite to that. I felt a bit of a Martin, will Smith (in his comedian days) vibes. Francois Cluzet, another actor to follow did not disappoint. Omar Sy gave an amazing performance. he was funny, witty, and likeable. Oh and this movie is based on a true story.