5 Best Romantic French Movies Movies to Watch

Staff & contributors

More simply called La Vie d'Adèle in its native language, this French coming-of-age movie was hugely successful when it came out and was probably one of the most talked-about films of the time. On the one hand, the usual puritans came to the fore, criticizing the lengthy and graphic sex scenes. On the other hand, Julie Maroh, who wrote the source material that inspired the script, denounced Franco-Tunisian filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche for directing with his d*ck, if you don't mind me saying so, while also being an on-set tyrant. Whatever you make of this in hindsight, the only way to know is to watch this powerfully acted drama about the titular Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and her infatuation with Emma, a free-spirited girl with blue hair, played by Léa Seydoux. The film beautifully and realistically portrays Adele's evolution from a teenage high-school girl to a grown, confident woman. As their relationship matures, so does Adèle, and she slowly begins to outgrow her sexual and philosophical mentor. Whatever your final verdict on the controversial sex scene, Blue Is the Warmest Color is without doubt an outstanding film as are the performances from Exarchopoulos and Séydoux.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Alain Duclos, Alika Del Sol, Alma Jodorowsky, Anne Loiret, Aurélien Recoing, Aurelie Lemanceau, Aurélien Recoing, Baya Rehaz, Benjamin Siksou, Benoît Pilot, Benoît Pilot, Bouraouïa Marzouk, Camille Rutherford, Catherine Salée, Catherine Salée, Éric Paul, Fanny Maurin, Halima Slimani, Jérémie Laheurte, Jérémie Laheurte, Judith Hoersch, Justine Nissart, Karim Saidi, Klaim Nivaux, Léa Seydoux, Maelys Cabezon, Maud Wyler, Mona Walravens, Quentin Médrinal, Salim Kechiouche, Samir Bella, Sandor Funtek

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

Rating: NC-17

Certified Copy starts straightforward enough as it follows an unnamed shopkeeper (Juliette Binoche) and a writer (William Shimell) taking a stroll around picturesque Tuscany, debating the merits of authenticity and simplicity. They’re strangers flirting under the guise of an intellectual debate, and for a while, you think you’re watching a film like Before Sunrise, that is until a mysterious, almost magical, shift occurs, and suddenly, you’re witnessing something entirely different. For better or worse, director Abbas Kiarostami never makes it clear what happens, and that very mystery gives you a lot to think about. Are they pretending to be copies or is it the other way around? Neverending questions run through your head as you watch them banter, but whatever actually happens might be beside the point. At the moment, you get deeply felt, wonderfully rendered, as-real-as-can-be performances from Binoche and Shimell, and you can’t help but surrender.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Adrian Moore, Agathe Natanson, Andrea Laurenzi, Angelo Barbagallo, Gianna Giachetti, Jean-Claude Carrière, Juliette Binoche, William Shimell

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Rating: NR

In my own wished-for parallel universe, French actors Vincent Cassell and Emanuelle Devos are voted the sexiest actors alive. I find them both transfixing and appealing in every role they’ve performed, and they are quite the pair here. Devos plays Carla, a put-upon assistant at a property management company. While good at her job, there is little room for her to advance her career, as she is one of the only women at her company and also has a hearing deficiency. Into her humdrum life walks ex-convict Paul (Cassell), who Carla hires as a personal assistant. It turns out that what Paul lacks in secretarial skills he makes up for in other ways. The first half of the film plays almost like a dark workplace comedy, before taking a dangerous turn towards psychological crime thriller. Overall, it’s a dark and sexy character study of two mismatched outsiders who turn out to complement each other perfectly.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance, Thriller

Actor: Bernard Alane, Bô Gaultier de Kermoal, Celine Samie, Chloé Mons, Christophe Van de Velde, Christophe Vandevelde, David Saracino, Emmanuelle Devos, Francois Loriquet, Isabelle Caubère, Nathalie Lacroix, Olivia Bonamy, Olivier Gourmet, Olivier Perrier, Patrick Steltzer, Pierre Diot, Serge Boutleroff, Serge Onteniente, Vincent Cassel

Director: Jacques Audiard

Rating: R

This easy French rom-com from 2006 is about Jean, a poor barman played Gad Elmaleh, who lies about his profession to date Irène, played by Audrey Tautou.

Irène has the habit of dating wealthy men to fund her lifestyle, she quickly realizes that Jean does not fit that description. Determined to do everything he can to win her over, Jean himself starts dating wealthy women.

Priceless, or Hors de prix, is a fun and light romcom with excellent lead performances.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Annelise Hesme, Audrey Tautou, Blandine Pélissier, Charlotte Vermeil, Claudine Baschet, Didier Brice, Gad Elmaleh, Guillaume Verdier, Jacques Spiesser, Jean de Coninck, Jean-Michel Lahmi, Laurent Claret, Marie-Christine Adam, Vernon Dobtcheff

Director: Pierre Salvadori

Rating: PG-13

A Kurdish-Iraqi immigrant runs into serious immigration problems as he tries to immigrate from France to England in order to be reunited with his girlfriend. Eventually he begins to train in swimming, in an attempt to swim the channel between France and England. Welcome is a gripping tale of tolerance as well as relationships between locals and immigrants. It also gives a great look into the shortcoming of the European immigration system, and will have you crying by the end of it, no question.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Audrey Dana, Behi Djanati Atai, Blandine Pélissier, Bruno Tuchszer, Carine Bouquillon, Derya Ayverdi, Emmanuel Courcol, Éric Herson-Macarel, Firat Ayverdi, Firat Celik, Florence Hebbelynck, Jacques Herlin, Jean-François Fagour, Jean-Paul Comart, Jean-Pol Brissart, Joakim Latzko, Mehmet Selim Akgul, Murat Subasi, Olivier Rabourdin, Patrick Ligardes, Stéphane Butet, Thierry Godard, Vincent Lindon, Vincent Pietton, Yannick Renier

Director: Philippe Lioret

Rating: Not Rated, Unrated