While movies set in Paris usually portray an idealistic impression of Paris, some do show a darker side to the capital that may make someone thinking of moving here reconsider a move. I’ve highlighted the top 7 movies that may just do that.
As critic James Berardinelli (ReelViews) puts it; “Whatever else it may be, Irreversible is disturbingly unforgettable. It is impossible to have a blasé reaction to a film this visceral. Indifference is not an option.”
Paris may be known as the city of love, but not in this film. This 2002 psychological thriller unfolds in reverse-chronological order as two men make their way through Paris to avenge the rape of a woman in their lives (Monica Bellucci in a scene that will remain with you for years to come). The film is scored by Thomas Bangalter, one of the musicians of electronic group Daft Punk. Make sure to catch IRREVERSIBLE before going to see director Gaspar Noé’s latest film, CLIMAX.
2. LA HAINE
This 1995 French film follows 24 hours in the lives of 3 young men in France, the day after a violent riot. Featuring Vincent Cassel in one of his Early roles, this film explores life in a cramped drench “ghetto” where mixed ideologies combined with a racist an oppressive police force have created a pressure-cooker waiting to explode.
This film, starring Liam Neeson, has gone on to achieve cult-status and produce a slew of sequels. It follows a retired CIA agent (Neeson) who must travel from America to Europe and resurrect the skills from his past when his daughter is kidnapped in Paris. Without a doubt, this is an American tourist’s nightmare. Enjoy!
Critic – Philadelphia Inquirer – Steven Rea, “There’s a xenophobic element to Taken’s premise, to be sure – the idea that travel, even to Western Europe, isn’t safe for Americans, and that foreigners (Albanians, Arabs) are by nature shifty and sinister.”
4. THE DREAMERS
Don’t be fooled by the sex appeal of this movie, twisted things lie ahead. This 2003 film follows an American studying in Paris in 1968 (against the backdrop of the Paris student riots) as he falls into a relationship with a brother-sister couple. Things get complicated.
5. AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
his horror film will take you into the legendary catacombs of Paris. This found-footage picture follows a team of explorers as they search for the philosopher’s stone in the Parisian underground, while experiencing a gross inversion of the above-ground world they once knew. What they encounter, however, will set their past and present worlds colliding. Recommended for fans of British cult horror film THE DESCENT (2005).
Critic Simon Abrams from RogerEbert.com: “You’ll think twice before getting back in line for a second visit”.
6. THREE COLORS: BLUE
This film veers away from the abject horror of some of the previous entries on this list. However, that’s not to say it is an upper. THREE COLORS: BLUE follows international star Juliette Binoche as she struggles to live life, following the death of her child and husband. It was nominated for three Golden Globes after it opened in 1993.
Critic Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: “Daring in its willingness to risk looking maudlin by dealing with extremes, Blue doesn’t hesitate to explore spiritual and psychological states that are beyond many films.”
7. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS
This American-French film collaboration is one for the ages. It might be a safer bet than the aforementioned film, as this is billed as a comedy-horror. It follows a young American who gets involved with French werewolves who have developed a transformation-controlling serum. Of course, things go wrong.
This list was provided by Manon Kerjean, Founder of Lost in Frenchlation, an organisation that breaks the language barrier and bring the best of French cinema to the international community in Paris by screening French movies with English subtitles