Take pleasure in learning French by discovering the comedies and dramas of French cinema. The Netflix streaming platform offers several shows and films produced in France. With so many choices, it's sometimes difficult to know where to start. This is why we have made an eclectic selection of the 10 best French films to watch on Netflix Canada. You will find something for your taste. Don’t panic, the films are subtitled in English.
Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont by Julien Rambaldi (The African Doctor)
Released in 2016, Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont directed by Julien Rambaldi, is partly based on the story of the father of singer Kamini Zantoko, who participated in the script of the film. The idea for a biographical film emerged after the release in 2006 of Kamini’s humorous hit “Marly-Gomont”, which was buzzing. He discusses the paradoxes of being a rapper in the countryside and black in a village of 445 inhabitants. Ten years later, French people had forgotten the rapper from Picardie, until his tribute to his village and his father who died in a car accident, became a movie.
Synopsis of Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont (The African Doctor):
In 1975, Seyolo Zantoko, a graduate doctor from Kinshasa, grabs the opportunity of becoming a country doctor in a small French village. When they arrive in Marly-Gomont, Seyolo and his family quickly become disillusioned. The village inhabitants are afraid; this is the first time they've ever seen African people. But Seyolo is determined to succeed and will do everything he can to win the villagers' trust.
Watch Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont (The African Doctor) on Netflix Canada.
Mauvaises herbes (Bad seeds) by Kheiron
Released in 2018, Mauvaises herbes by Kheiron is a film that is the testimony of the director's past four years as an educator for children in difficulty. It is the quote from Victor Hugo: “There are no worthless weeds and men. There are only bad farmers.” that made Kheiron want to put it in images at the cinema. This French dramatic comedy, favorite of the Liège International Comedy Film Festival, is supported by Kheiron, who plays the main role, and by Catherine Deneuve and André Dussollier.
Synopsis of Mauvaises herbes (Bad seeds):
Waël, a young sympathetic adult lives of small scams with the complicity of Monique, a retiree who holds him very much. Until the day when Victor, an old acquaintance of Monique, unmasks them and decides not to file a complaint, in exchange Waël accepts voluntary work in an educational center with 6 adolescents excluded from the school system.
Watch Mauvaises herbes (Bad seeds) on Netflix Canada.
La Vie Scolaire (School life) by Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir
Released in 2019, La Vie Scolaire by Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir is a touching and realistic French comedy that draws up a fair and nuanced report on schools in priority education areas. Without ever falling into cliché or pathos, this film is based on the experience and observation of the slam artist, author and director Grand Corps Malade as well as the anecdotes gleaned over the years on the subject. The young actor aged 16, Liam Pierron, for whom it was his first film, was nominated for the Césars as most promising actor 2020. 80% of the actors come from the council estate of the Francs-Moisins where the film has been made, and none of them had ever been an actor.
Synopsis of La Vie Scolaire (School life):
Samia, young and inexperienced principal education counselor lands from his native Ardèche for personal reasons, in a sensitive high school in the Parisian suburbs. She discovers the social reality of priority education area’s high school, her new colleagues and of course, middle school students who sometimes go straight to school failure, like Yanis, who is yet a lively and intelligent student. So every day brings its share of surprises that Samia has to face.
Watch La Vie Scolaire (School Life) on Netflix Canada.
Il a déjà tes yeux (He even has your eyes) by Lucien Jean-Baptiste
Released in 2017, Il a déjà tes yeux by Lucien Jean-Baptiste is a French comedy that deals with the absurdity of racism. This kind, touching and funny film was a great success with the French public. Without ever falling into a marshmallow, this family comedy promotes tolerance and “living together”. In 2020, the film experienced a sequel to the television series of the same name, which was a success on the public channel France 2.
Synopsis of Il a déjà tes yeux (He even has your eyes):
Salimata and Paul Aloka, a young Parisian couple, receive the call they so wanted: their adoption file has been approved. Child welfare suggests that they adopt Benjamin, a 6-month-old baby, with blue eyes and blond hair. Salimata has Senegalese origin, Paul has Martinican origin and they are black. Benjamin is white. Then they have to face racist prejudices from the social worker, who is against this adoption and who consequently increases the impromptu and frequent visits of control.
Watch Il a déjà tes yeux (He even has your eyes) on Netflix Canada.
Le voyage au Groenland (Journey to Greenland) by Sébastien Betbeder
Released in 2016, Le voyage au Groenland by Sébastien Betbeder is a hilarious and touching French comedy set in a magical polar setting. This is the last film in the Greenlandic trilogy after "Inupiluk" and "Le film que nous tournerons au Groenland".
Synopsis of Le voyage au Groenland (Journey to Greenland):
Thomas and Thomas, thirty-something Parisians and actors, are the best friends in the world. One of them decides to take his friend to Greenland, to the village of Kullorsuaq where his father Nathan has lived for years. Within the Inuit community, they will meet new people and discover local customs, which will sometimes disconcert them.
Watch Le voyage au Groenland (Journey to Greenland) on Netflix Canada.
Sparring by Samuel Jouy
Released in 2018, Sparring by Samuel Jouy is the director's first feature film. This French moving and captivating drama highlights an ordinary hero. Mathieu Kassovitz, who plays the main role, learned to fight real fights in the film, by refusing to be dubbed. As the director clarified, Sparring is not a film about boxing but about a boxer who decides to become a sparring partner to get his family, to whom he is devoted, out of precarity. Samuel Jouy offers us a portrait of those left behind.
Synopsis of Sparring:
Steve Landry, a declining boxer with 49 games, 13 wins, 3 draws and 33 losses to his name, decides to become a sparring partner for a younger and more talented boxing champion. Despite countless losses, Steve Landry returns to the ring, not to end his career on repeated failures, and so that his daughter, old enough to understand, can be proud of him.
Watch Sparring on Netflix Canada.
Shéhérazade by Jean-Bernard Marlin
Released in 2018, Shéhérazade is the first film by Jean-Bernard Marlin. He was acclaimed by the critics and won the awards at the Césars in 2019, obtaining the César Award for the most promising actor and César Award for the best first feature film. To be able to make his film realistically and fairly, Jean-Bernard Marlin prepared himself for two years, immersing himself in the world of prostitution. In order to unearth the two main actors, Dylan Robert and Kenza Fortas, the director has multiplied the wild castings at the exit of the prisons, in the council estates of Marseille, in children’s homes, at schools.
Synopsis of Shéhérazade:
Inspired by the two actors' own stories, Zachary, 17, just got out of prison like Dylan and Shéhérazade, who lives in a children’s home like Kenza. The prostitute girl welcomes this young boy to her home. These two lost young marginalists then begin a love story, in the heart of Marseille.
Watch Shéhérazade on Netflix Canada.
Divines by Houda Benyamina
Released in 2016, Divines by Houda Benyamina is a French drama that received an excellent feedback at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, winning the Caméra d'or (Golden Camera). He was also awarded the Césars by winning the César Award for best film, César Award for the most promising actress for Oulaya Amamra and finally, the César Award for best supporting actress for Déborah Lukumuena. Divines is often compared to the famous film La Haine, being its current version of the Parisian suburbs, told by women. The film highlights strong women and tells a beautiful story of friendship and love.
Synopsis of Divines:
Dounia is a young teenager who is thirsty for success and ambition. As she says, she wants “money, money, money”. In order to achieve this, she abandoned her vocational high school and decided to work for Rebecca, a respected dealer in her Parisian suburbs. Supported by her best friend Maimouna, she quickly won the esteem of her new boss, until she unexpectedly met a dancer named Djigui.
Watch Divines on Netflix Canada.
Much loved by Nabil Ayouch
Released in 2015, Much Loved is a Franco-Moroccan film by director Nabil Ayouch. The idea for this poignant and intense film was born from the observation of Moroccan women forced to prostitute themselves in Marrakech to earn a living. This feature film lifts the veil on a taboo of society. After its presentation at the Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Festival, the film was banned from screening in Morocco, for morality outrage and prejudicing the country. The main actress Loubna Abidar received numerous death threats following the presentation and ended up being attacked in Casablanca.
Synopsis of Much Loved:
Noha, Randa, Soukaina and Hlima are prostitutes in Marrakech. They must live daily with the dangers and the taboo of their profession in a conservative country. Fortunately, these four friends are close-knit and accomplices.
Watch Much Loved on Netflix Canada.
Arès by Jean-Patrick Benes
Released in 2016, Ares by Jean-Patrick Benes is a French dystopian science fiction film. This futuristic film was well received by critics as well as by the French public. Unaccustomed to this genre in French cinema, Ares was able to bring about an interesting reflection on what France would be following a serious economic crisis where the wealth gap would be almost insurmountable.
Synopsis of Ares:
In the near future, in 2035, the French state went bankrupt and now belongs to private companies, which changed the laws. The country has more than 15 million unemployed and the climate of violence is omnipresent. Doping has also become legal, the human body, a commodity, and human experimentation has become a mere act of commerce. A pharmaceutical laboratory decides to test its new product on the boxer-gladiator Reda, who earns his living by entertaining people.
Watch Ares on Netflix Canada.