Must-See Foreign Language Films

Marvel movies are great, but sometimes you just want to see something different, something that is not a sequel or prequel or a franchise. Hollywood tends to be slow to embrace original movies, because they involve taking a risk. This is where foreign language films come in. There are so many original, creative movies in the world it would be a shame to miss out.

Some people don’t like to read while they watch a film. To that I say, just give it a chance. It may take a few minutes to acclimate, perhaps more if you are a newbie. Once you get used to it, the subtitles fade away and you are immersed. Put one on hold today for curbside pickup and try one for yourself!


If you want to dip your toes in, try these movies:

Triplets of BellevilleOh Lucy!Let the Right One InThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Triplets of Belleville: French cinema loves its quirky characters, and this movie certainly delivers. A kind and patient grandmother who raised her grandson to pursue his passion for bicycling goes on a mission to find him when he and other bicyclists are kidnapped during the Tour de France.  Along the way, she meets up with a trio of sisters who were once known as the Triplets of Belleville, music hall stars from the 1930s. Together, they set out to rescue him.  There is virtually no dialogue in this movie, so no need to stress about subtitles. Just sit back and enjoy.

Oh Lucy!: An unfulfilled woman in Tokyo takes an unusual English class at the behest of her niece. She becomes romantically obsessed with the instructor, played by Josh Hartnett, then finds out her niece ran off with him to America. She and her sister travel to L.A. to find her. What could possibly go wrong? A substantial portion of this movie is set in L.A., so there is a nice mix of English and Japanese.

Let the Right One In: A lonely young girl befriends a bullied boy. The twist? She is a vampire! This is a vampire story unlike any you have ever seen, unless you have seen the American remake, Let Me In. The remake was quite faithful to the original, so you can get used to the subtitles without worry that you’ll miss a major plot point.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: In a nutshell, this film is about a journalist who hires a computer hacker to assist in his investigation into the disappearance of a wealthy man’s niece. The actual story is far more complex. It twists and turns into many dark corners. This is the type of movie that can really make you forget there are subtitles! This one also has a well done American remake.


Once you are used to subtitles, move along to these movies:

PersepolisAmeliePans LabyrinthVolverParasiteSeven Samurai

Persepolis: Based on a graphic novel by the same name, this striking black and white animated film tells the true story of Marjane Satrapi, a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl who grows up dealing with the injustices of post-revolution Iran, a culture clash with Vienna, and ultimately, the realization that you really can’t go home again.

Amélie: A quirky French tale of a fanciful young woman who finds a tin containing a treasure of small toys behind a loose baseboard tile. She sets out on a mission to return the tin to its rightful owner, and to perform other good acts along the way.

Pan’s Labyrinth: During the Spanish Civil War, a little girl moves out to the country with her sickly pregnant mother, who recently married a sadistic army captain, and discovers a fantastical world full of mythical beings. 

Volver: Director Pedro Almodóvar always seems to take serious, and often controversial, subject matter and weave it into a riveting, and often humorous story. Volver is no different. Join Penelope Cruz as Raimunda, a woman who has killed her alcoholic husband in self-defense and hid his body in the deep freezer of an empty restaurant. And that is not the only complication in her life!

Parasite: One desperate family concocts a plan to infiltrate the staff positions of a wealthy family, at any cost. This dark social satire was the first non-English film to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

Seven Samurai: Villagers recruit a samurai to keep them safe from bandits, unable to offer any payment but rice. After being won over, the samurai assembles a team of six more samurai to save the village from the marauders. This movie inspired many American directors. If you liked Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope, Django Unchained, The Matrix Revolutions, Mad Max: Fury Road, or even Three Amigos, give this movie a go.