‘À la folie… pas du tout’ (French) ★★★★
The film’s English title being ‘He Loves Me He Loves Me Not,’ this film is directed by Laetitia Colombani and stars Audrey Tautou. Initially, advertised as a romance story between a waitress and the local handsome doctor, the plot takes a sinister turn as the film restarts itself in the middle. Now with the series of events occurring from a different perspective, we the audience are in for one very thrilling ride. The performances are spectacular, especially from the lead actress, and for such a seemingly safe concept it goes to dark places very quickly. The cinematography is gorgeous and the plot is so acutely detailed that it is definitely a film you will want to rewatch as soon as the credit start rolling. I would agree that this is a film that could be watched without subtitles but spoken in the language of love makes it even better.
‘Reality’ is directed by Matteo Garrone and is both sad and hysterical. Centered around a fishmonger whose stall is not returning much profit, he decides to audition for the Italian version of ‘Big Brother.’ This leads to one of the most interesting psychological films I’ve ever seen. It not only deals with the reality of being a TV star, it also takes a look into what the hope of fame and fortune does to someone who is outside of it. It is pretty heartbreaking to see the value one can put on celebrity, how much it can change both your perception of yourself and your satisfaction with your own relatively humble happy life. Although there are parts that are far too drawn out, overall it is an interesting walk even if only once.
‘Oldboy’ is directed by Park Chan-wook and is a violent psychological thriller set in South Korea. Although many may be thinking they have already seen this film, this is the original, not the US remake. No-one knows how to do gangster thrillers like South Korea (or horror for that matter), hence this masterpiece. If you can avoid any spoilers you will definitely enjoy it more. It is also laced with symbolism and a lot of violence, if you are squeamish I would not recommend. The spoiler-free premise is that Oh Dae-Su has been detained in a cellar by his anonymous kidnappers for 15 years and sets to seek revenge upon his release. What follows is pretty spectacular. The story is based on a Japanese manga, another country revered for its depictions of terror and gore.
‘The Hunt’ (Dutch) ★★★★★
‘The Hunt’ is directed by Thomas Vinterberg and is a Dutch film starring Mads Mikkelsen as the leading man, and a terrific one at that. It focuses on a primary school teacher who is accused of molesting one of the young girls he teaches. The twist is he didn’t. The rest of the film follows him being outcasted, attacked and despite trying to prove his innocence, this is a very deadly game of ‘he said she said.’ Mikkelsen gives one of the most desperate and heartbreaking performances I have ever seen and his slow progression into hopelessness is incredible. No film has ever had me so completely drained of hope. The ending will have you devastated, definitely not a film to watch if you want to be cheered up, but an important one.
‘Battle Royale’ (Japanese)★★★★
This Japanese film is directed by Kinji Fukasaku and is the original child murder spree before ‘The Hunger Games’ except with much better writing and overall pretty terrifying performances. There is something campy about ‘Battle Royale’ that solidifies it as a cult classic just from the premise and tone alone. The government of Japan chooses a class of students to take part in a televised death match with only one winner, the survivor. Some are given guns, others a bat or saucepan. They must maintain movement each hour and the necklaces around their necks will explode if they break any rules. The book is incredible and this film really does it justice regardless of the changes it had to make. A must watch for all those who love good suspense and blood galore!
What is your favourite foreign film? Let me know below!
Side photo credit: Flickr/ ‘Oldboy 2013’by Ma_Co2013