image: kira noble for bird is the word

I owe most of my foreign film viewing to my boyfriend, who’s a certified cinephile. These days we’re on a steady diet of new foreign flicks thanks to Netflix and great local cinemas like The Violet Crown and Alamo Drafthouse. Why are we so hooked? Because we’ve found that films made in foreign countries are more likely to surprise us, show us something new, or treat a story in a different way than we’re used to. Even better, foreign movies often give us a peek into the culture and values of different places around the world. (And as a result, a different vantage point of ourselves.)

Scroll down for our team’s quick list of favorite foreign films:


Tell No One, 2006.

This French film is the perfect mix of beautiful cinematography and edge-of-your seat suspense. A man is accused of killing his beloved wife, and – flash forward 8 years – things get really twisted when he begins to receive messages that hint she may be still alive. — Camille

Love Me If You Dare, 2003.

What starts out as a childhood game of dares turns into a fearless competition between Guillame Canet and Marion Cotillard in this French movie. As adults, they try to fight their love for one another through high-stakes dares and dangerous stunts. Cap ou pas cap? — Carmen


I Am Love, 2009.

If Tilda Swinton is in a movie we’re automatically interested, and this Italian film by Luca Guadagnino doesn’t disappoint. The movie follows a haute bourgeoisie family through their ups and downs, all shot at their gorgeous family manor outside of Milan. — Jenn Rose


The Embrace of the Serpent, 2015.

This Columbian film follows an Amazonian shaman as he aids two scientists in search of a sacred healing plant. The movie is trance-like and beautiful, and at the same time shines an intense light on the violence and destruction of western colonization. — Jenn Rose


La Vache, 2016.

Trouble abounds when a charming Algerian farmer pursues his dreams of taking his prized cow to the International Agriculture Fair. From one hilarious blunder to the next, La Vache is a reminder that foreign films don’t have to be so serious. — Chanel


Heartbeats, 2010.

This one is a favorite Netflix discovery of mine… a Canadian (but OH-so-French film) about a surprising love triangle between three best friends. It’s funny and modern and absolutely perfect for a night in with wine and pizza. — Jenn Rose


The Handmaiden, 2016.

Okay, so this intensely gorgeous South Korean film comes with a disclaimer: NOT a family film. As in, don’t take Grandma. Or mom. Especially not Dad. In fact, you might need to go it alone to watch this sensual period piece set in 1930’s colonial era Korea. But definitely go. You’ll love the mystery, the suspense, and the unbelievable scenery. — Jenn Rose


Water, 2005.

A true work of art, this Indo-Canadian film follows a young widow in 1930’s India as she attempts to escape poverty. The result is moving, artful and unforgettable. — Chanel


Good Day, Ramon. 2015

Follow a young man as he travels from his small Mexican village to Germany in search of work to support his family. This might be the only movie I’ve ever seen that’s half in Spanish and half in German. It will change the way you think about how we communicate, and totally restore your faith in humanity. It’s heartwarming and an all-around feel good movie.  — Jenn Rose


I’m Not Scared, 2003.

This Italian film by Gabriele Salvatores is part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age tale, and totally unique. When a local boy finds something unexpected in a nearby field, his whole world is turned upside down. — Jenn Rose

16 comments
  1. 1
    Briana N. Lee | January 20, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Les Amours Imaginaires is one of my very favorite films. That house party scene is unforgettable.

    Briana
    http://www.youngsophisticate.com

    Reply
  2. 2
    Rachael | January 20, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Oh I will definitely have to give these a watch, I love a foreign film 🙂

    Rachael xx.
    theteacozykitchen.blogspot.co.uk

    Reply
  3. 3
    daeyz | January 20, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Love Me If You Dare is one of my favorite movies! Love the list!

    xx,
    Daeyz
    http://www.daeyz.com

    Reply
  4. 4
    Amy | January 20, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Oooh I’d love to add Les Choristes to the list! It is about a failed musician who gets a teaching job at a school for troubled boys in post-war France. One of my favorite films of all time! Honestly just the trailer itself is so lovely.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Rose Smith | January 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      Les Choristes sounds amazing, Amy! Thank for the recommendation. Putting that one on my “must watch” list.

      Reply
  5. 5
    Stefanie Bodkin | January 20, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    I also highly recommend “Worlds Apart” is a Greek movie with an international cast! I’m pretty sure Amazon has it!! Would love to hear what you think!!

    Reply
    • Jennifer Rose Smith | January 22, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Oh a Greek movie! How fun. Thanks for the rec, Stefanie. I will put that on my queue.

      Reply
  6. 6
    Lily | January 21, 2017 at 4:50 am

    Very interesting list. I will try to see some of them. Thanks for sharing. I would like to recommend ” The Salesman” from Asghar Farhadi, Oscar and Golden Globe winner for ” A Separation” and also a candidate for this year’s Oscar as well.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Rose Smith | January 22, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Great. Thank you for these recommendations, Lily. Putting those on my list!

      Reply
  7. 7
    Kelly | January 21, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Great list! I will look for those! Thanks!

    Reply
  8. 8
    keith | January 21, 2017 at 8:36 am

    The movie is trance-like and beautiful, and at the same time shines an intense light

    Reply
  9. 9
    Olivia | January 21, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Les Amours Imaginaires is amazing! Of course, it’s a Canadian film, so only partly ‘foreign’ 🙂 A really superb Chinese director worth seeking out is Wong Kar-Wai – in particular, his films Chungking Express (my personal favourite) and In The Mood For Love (a masterpiece).

    Reply
    • Jennifer Rose Smith | January 22, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      Ah yes! Thank you for this comment Olivia. I completely forgot that they are in Montreal! I will update that caption to specify that it is a Canadian film. Thanks for the Wong Kar-Wai recommendation. I will definitely be looking into those films.

      Reply
  10. 10
    Kathleen | January 22, 2017 at 2:53 am

    MUBI is an amazing movie site that is really inexpensive and offers a new film every day. All art house movies, foreign, award winners and very notable directors, etc.

    Reply
  11. 11
    Zofia | January 25, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Amazing post! The ‘Handmaiden’ is actually set in Japan-controlled Korea. Wonderfully tense film.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Rose Smith | January 26, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      Ah! Another mistake. Thank you Zofia for that correction. Updating the caption for that film now! And agreed, it’s a fantastic film with SO much tension. I hope to watch it again soon.

      Reply
Leave a Reply to Jennifer Rose SmithCancel

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *