La Môme (La Vie en Rose; France, 2007) - A biopic so faithful to the person and the time it’s as if Édith Piaf - played by the highly honored (and deservedly so) Marion Cotillard - had just woken up from a long sleep at Père Lachaise cemetery. Incroyable.
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (Amelie; France, 2001) - One of the most popular French films internationally in years, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s feel-good story of a winsome young Parisian dogooder named Amélie takes viewers on a colorful tour of Pigalle, Notre Dame, train stations and, above all, Montmartre.
À Bout de Souffle (Breathless; France, 1959) - Jean-Luc Goddard’s first feature is a carefree, fast-paced B&W celebration of Paris - from av des Champs-Élysées to the cafés of the Left Bank.
Midnight in Paris (USA, 2011) - Can you know if you’re living through a Golden Age? Woody Allen’s love letter to Paris and to its literary and artistic denizens of the past makes a strong argument that in Paris the Golden Age is always now.
Last Tango in Paris (USA, 1972) - In Bernardo Bertolucci’s classic, Marlon Brando gives the performance of his career portraying a grief-stricken American in Paris who tries to find salvation in anonymous, sadomasochistic sex.
La Haine (Hate; France, 1995) - Matthieu Kassovitz’s incendiary B&W film examines the racism, social repression and violence among Parisian beurs (young French-born Algerians).
Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows; France, 1959) - Based on the French idiom faire les quatre cents coups (to raise hell), François Truffaut’s first film is the semiautobiographical story of a downtrodden and neglected Parisian teenage boy who turns to outward rebellion.
Originally published as “Paris: films to see before you go” © 2011 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved.
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