Top 5 Romantic Foreign Films

Inspired by the number of hits I got for my post on Top 5 Most Underrated Romantic Movies, I’ve decided to write about top foreign language romantic movies that you may/may not have heard about.

Ready? Here you go!

Priceless (French)

Here’s a typical feel-good romcom that has all the trappings of the genre I’m honestly not too fond of. And, yet this movie makes it to this list. I’ll tell you why. Actually my problem with romantic comedies is their over-the-top and often not-so-funny humor. Plus, their plots are usually improbable and even laughable. Their done-to-death treatment of inane situations is so clumsy that I watch them when I struggle to fall asleep. An example? Two good looking people who are obviously meant to be together, do not seem to know that until the climax!

Anyway, before I turn this post into a romcom bashing article, let me talk about this ‘priceless’ movie. It’s essentially about a hooker and an enchanted bartender who she mistakes for a billionaire. After realizing who he really is, the girl quickly turns him away while the guy keeps chasing her. As the story moves forward, the guy does some rather unthinkable things just in hope of winning her over. She rebuffs his attempts but in the end she (of course) falls in love with him.

What to love about this film:

– Gad Elmaleh’s character is the one to root for. He’s gawky, shy and even stupid. Yet, you want him to win. His gradual transformation into a somewhat suave young man made me smile. And of course, I asked myself why can’t I meet a man like him!
– It’s a genuinely funny film. Watch out for the scene where Audrey Tautou tutors Gad to manipulate his mistress. Or the one where Gad pretends to be a wealthy heir.
– Love the way Audrey Tautou dresses! She’s such a fine looking woman with some serious acting chops.

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House of the Flying Daggers (Chinese)

I like the idea of two people falling in love in just 2 days. The cynic in me tells me it’s wildly impossible. But a part of me wants to believe in it and that’s why I love this movie. Set in 859 AD, this wuxia film stars Andy Lau, Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro in main roles. The story is quite simple. Zhang Ziyi, a blind dancer is arrested on the suspicion of being a member of the Flying Daggers. The Flying Daggers are up against the establishment and a police officer comes up with a plan to nab them. The plan involves another officer winning over the trust of Zhang Ziyi by setting her free from the prison and then following her through the woods to apprehend the Flying Daggers.

It’s not difficult to guess that they fall in love and there’s a change in plans. There’s a twist. But I’m not going to spoil it here. You can find out when you watch the movie.

What to love about this film:

– The movie has been shot exceptionally well. Watch out for the brilliant use of colors in the final scene. It’s hard to get out of the mind.
– The sexual tension that builds up between Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro. I can’t reveal the plot, but can tell you that you will be surprised!
Takeshi Kaneshiro! He has a die-hard fan in me!

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The Japanese Wife (Bengali/Indian)

There’s something truly special about this simple film. Apart from the brilliant performances of all actors, it is one of those rare films that just tell the story. There’s no judgment, no illusions, no manipulations to evoke emotions. It’s simply a story about a poor teacher living in rural Bengal (India) who marries his Japanese pen-friend. They never meet, never see each other, yet theirs is a kind of love that is so hard to find these days.

Despite no assurances of a possible union, Snehomoy and Miyagi are devoted to each other. So, even the idea of considering a prospective match is out of question for Snehomoy. I love how his unwavering loyalty to his ‘wife’ eventually convinces his aunt that her beloved nephew will never really marry anybody else. Over the course of time, the sleepy remote village where they live also comes to accept a Japanese bride who has never set a foot there.

What to love about this film:

– This movie re-affirmed my faith in love that knows how to set itself free. I know plenty of couples who’ve been with each other for years. And yet, all that’s left between them is a façade of normalcy. Snehomoy and Miyagi, on the other hand, are refreshingly real.
– Snehomoy is the archetypal Bangali Bhodrolok (Bengali gent). He is educated yet unambitious. He has no set plans for future, yet there is no angst. He doesn’t deride his aunt for trying to find him a wife. Instead, he quietly internalizes his feelings.
– The simplicity of the film is its beauty. There’s no rush, the movie progresses at a leisurely pace while soaking you in.

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Let the Right One in (Swedish)

The miserable Twilight series has turned me so completely against vampire movies that when I heard about this one, I cringed. Another migraine-inducing vampire flick, I thought. But somehow I was coaxed into watching it, and boy am I glad?

This sensitive tale of a vampire and a 12 year old boy is set in 1981. Oskar meets Eli one day and their lives change. Eli is his only friend and he soon falls in love with her. After he discovers who she really is, he gets closer to her and their bond gets stronger.

What to love about this film:
– Two lonely kids who discover friendship and love. Need I say more?
– Brilliant cinematography. A quick note, by the way. The chilling conditions outside seem to correlate with the coldness of the hearts of those around Oskar and Eli.

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Camila (Spanish/Argentinian)

Camila is a passionate tale of forbidden love, guilt and separation. To be honest, it is not one of the most romantic movies I’ve watched. No, not by any stretch of imagination. Yet, I’m including it in this list because it touches upon several themes that make it a good watch. Also if you are a sucker for romantic tragedies, I’m quite sure you’re going to like it.

The story is set in the early 19th century. Free-spirited Camila comes from an aristocratic family. She falls in love with a young priest (Fr. Ladislao) who initially rejects her but later gives into his feelings for her. Back in those days, such love was unacceptable. So the two flee and hope to build a new life away from societal pressures. They live in bliss at first but Ladislao is later consumed by feeling of guilt for abandoning his duties. They are captured and mercilessly executed.

What to love about this film:

– Doomed lovers have always captured the imagination of die-hard romantics. Ladislao and Camila are star-crossed lovers whose tragic story will pull the strings of your hearts
– The fact that the movie is based on real people makes it all the more tragic. Under Juan Manuel de Rosas’ tyrant rule, the young couple was subjected to numerous hardships. Camila was barely 23 and eight months pregnant when she was executed by the firing squads.

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