4 Best Movies to Watch From Les Films Pelléas

Staff & contributors

French director Mia Hansen-Løve is a master at gently capturing the full bittersweetness of life, and that’s no more evident than in One Fine Morning. Léa Seydoux gives a quietly powerful performance as Sandra, a mother-of-one who is grappling with the slow, devastating decline of her philosophy professor father at the hands of a neurodegenerative disease. As she deals with the crushing trauma of watching her father deteriorate — and the logistical stress of getting him the care he needs — life grants her an oasis through a chance meeting with an old acquaintance (Clément, played by Melvil Poupaud). Despite Clément being married, the two are hurled into a passionate romance, one that re-ignites something in Sandra she thought she’d lost forever.

What’s so remarkable about One Fine Morning is its gentle empathy: Hansen-Løve appreciates that, in the context of Sandra’s life, her affair with Clément is something life-affirming and vital, worthy of sensitive consideration rather than easy judgment or melodrama. What’s more, One Fine Morning extends that thoughtful attention to the other people around Sandra, with digressions that recognize the fullness and complexity of their lives, too. This is a film that overflows with compassion and curiosity for everyone in its frame, and one that has a contagiously heart-expanding effect on its audiences. 

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Elsa Guedj, Fejria Deliba, Léa Seydoux, Masha Kondakova, Melvil Poupaud, Nicole Garcia, Pascal Greggory, Sarah Le Picard

Director: Mia Hansen-Løve

You would expect a courtroom drama to be built around damning pieces of evidence, passionate speeches, or certain social issues lending weight to the investigation. But what makes Justine Triet's Palme d'Or-winning Anatomy of a Fall so remarkable is how direct it is. Triet doesn't treat this case like a puzzle for the audience to participate in solving; instead she fashions this trial into a portrait of a family being eroded by even just the suggestion of distrust. It ultimately has far less to do with who's responsible for the death of a man, and more to do with the challenge of facing the reality that the people we love are capable of being cruel and callous to others.

Which isn't to say that Anatomy of a Fall doesn't still possess qualities that make it a great courtroom drama—doubt only continues to pile up with every new piece of information that's revealed to the audience, until we begin to interpret characters' expressions and actions in a contradictory ways. But the way Triet executes these reveals is just so skillful, choosing precisely how to let details slip and obscuring everything behind faulty memory, intentional dishonesty, or any other obstacles that usually come up during an investigation.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Alexandre Bertrand, Anne Rotger, Anne-Lise Heimburger, Antoine Bueno, Antoine Reinartz, Arthur Harari, Camille Rutherford, Christophe Devaux, Cyril Karenine, Emmanuelle Jourdan, Florent Chasseloup, Iliès Kadri, Isaac Abballah, Jean-Pierre Bertrand, Jehnny Beth, Judicaël Ajorque, Kareen Guiock, Laura Balasuriya, Maud Martin, Milo Machado-Graner, Nesrine Slaoui, Nicholas Angelo, Nola Jolly, Pierre-François Garel, Saadia Bentaïeb, Sacha Wolff, Samuel Theis, Sandra Hüller, Sandrine Chastagnol, Savannah Rol, Sophie Fillières, Swann Arlaud, Wajdi Mouawad

Director: Justine Triet

Rating: R

Dedicated to his father, director Christopher Honoré’s most recent film contemplates the loss of a parent. This endeavor is a deeply personal one. Honoré’s approach acknowledges this– he starts and interjects throughout the whole film with scenes of Lucas confessing his dark emotions. After all, losing one’s father is a difficult theme to talk about, let alone losing one who hasn’t fully expressed their acceptance of your sexuality. It’s easy for Lucas to fall into despair, but Honoré clearly respects the grief of his young protagonist. Even in Lucas’ more risky behavior, the camera is set with a non-judgmental eye. However, Honoré focuses more on hope here. The hope of familial support, of having another tomorrow, and of having a true friend… These are the hopes that await Lucas. These are the promises Honoré makes for those who lost their father.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Anne Kessler, Christophe Honoré, Juliette Binoche, Pascal Cervo, Paul Kircher, Vincent Lacoste, Wilfried Capet

Director: Christophe Honoré

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