After reading a blog post about international films, I was inspired to write my very own list of foreign language films that I’ve enjoyed. I set to work immediately until I realised that I only had 3 films that I felt were worthy enough of a mention. I may not exactly be a connoisseur on the international film scene so I hastily watched two more films and thankfully I deemed them good enough for this list. As I’m sure you can sense, I was determined to write this post and not just because it would give me that cool, artsy image. I truly do believe people disregard films in a language other than English far too often. I’ll admit the only reason why I ever started watching foreign language films was because there simply weren’t enough gay coming-of-age films in English (this is why there are three films on this list which fit into that category). However I have branched off from that genre (look there are two other films on this list, okay maybe two isn’t the majority but give a bi girl a break). One great thing about foreign films is that they require your full attention. I’m guilty of scrolling through social media on my phone as I watch some films, I know -I’m a disgrace to the film industry, but it’s near impossible to commit this crime while watching a foreign film as you must read the subtitles (unless you’re actually cultured enough to be able to fully understand a second/third language). Anyway without further ado, here’s a list of my top foreign language films…
The Way He Looks (2014)
Directed & written by Daniel Ribeiro
This is a Brazilian coming-of-age film which centers on Leonardo, a blind teenager navigating his way through high school. This journey is taken with his best friend Giovana who longs to be more than that and Gabriel, the class newcomer who has led Leo to question his sexuality. This film is refreshing in the way that it is not tragically depressing as one might expect from a film about a gay, blind teen trying to fit in. Leo lives a relatively normal teenage life; he goes to parties and school trips and his parents worry when he stays out too late. This isn’t necessarily a life changing film but it’s an uplifting easy-to-watch one.
Good bye, Lenin! (2003)
Directed & written by Wolfgang Becker
This movie qualified as our curriculum in TY German class and while it probably led to little improvement in my German language skills, it was thoroughly enjoyable. It’s set in East Berlin in 1989. It revolves around Alex, who lives with his mother, sister and niece. After suffering a heart attack, his mother, an avid supporter of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, falls into a coma. When she wakes from the coma, the Berlin wall has fallen but the doctor warns Alex that any major shocks could cause another heart attack. To avoid such a scenario, Alex and his sister must recreate East Berlin through fake news broadcasts, old pickle jars and amateur child actors. It’s a peculiar, hilarious concept for a film and it was executed perfectly with a few heartwarming moments thrown in.
Directed & co-written by Jean-Marc Vallée
This is a French language Canadian coming-of-age flick. It follows Zac from his childhood into adulthood, struggling with his sexuality while living with four brothers and a traditional father in a Catholic hypermasculine household during the 60’s and 70’s. The film is focused heavily on characterisation which results in parts of the movie seeming quite slow-moving. Yet this can be forgiven due to the interesting visual shots and soundtrack which includes Bowie, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones, perfectly encapsulating Zac’s teenage years.
Directed and co-written by Park Chan-wook
This is the real odd one out in this list. It’s really not something that I would usually watch; it is not coming of age nor gay nor even slightly humorous. Alas it was a recommendation from a friend and I’ve been trying to venture into other genres so I gave it a shot. According to Wikipedia, it’s a South Korean mystery thriller neo-noir film which can be translated to mean a mind-fuck film. The film focuses on Dae-Su who is abducted and held in a hotel room for 15 years until he is released one day with no knowledge of who imprisoned him and more importantly, why. I can’t quite say I enjoyed this film, most of the time I was deeply disturbed. Yet I would still highly recommend this film for the ending alone which left me dumbfounded and played on my mind for days after watching this film. This film truly is a surreal experience.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour (2013)
Directed by and co-written by Abdellatif Kechiche
This film is a French coming of age romantic drama starring Adèle, a 15 year old girl who falls for an older, blue-haired art student, Emma. We witness the passion of their blossoming relationship and by passion, I mean 7 minute sex scene passion. Yet this film is more than a glorified porno, it’s a beautiful, moving, cinematic experience which portrays raw emotion. Whilst questioning myself and who I was, I watched this film and it’s for this reason that it’ll always have a place in my little gay heart.