It’s Oscar season, which, naturally, made me think of all the films out there. But, if you’re anything like me, watching films in your native language gets a little boring. So, I’m here to recommend to you a few of my favorite non-English films. Lucky for me (and you), these films are all on Netflix so you won’t need to search frantically to find them. The films I’ve chosen are a thoroughly eclectic bunch, but I loved them and I hope you do too. So, let’s get started!
- My first choice is actually a trilogy, but I’ll just be describing the first one. In fact, you’ve probably heard of it. Here’s a hint: It’s Swedish and NOT for the faint of heart. Ring any bells? I’m speaking, of course, of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, or, as it’s called in Swedish Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, which translates to “Men Who Hate Women” in English.
The movie focuses on Mikael Blomkvist, the publisher of a magazine who is currently facing a scandal due to a story that is considered libelous. He decides to take a leave of absence and is offered a very lucrative opportunity, working for a man named Henrik Vagner, to solve the mystery of his niece, Harriet, who disappeared many years ago. She used to give Henrik pressed flowers on his birthday and they are sent to him to this very day. Henrik is convinced she has been murdered, and that he is being taunted by her killer. Throughout this, viewers also meet the mysterious Lisbeth Salander, who works for a security company with interesting ways of collecting information. I wouldn’t recommend this film for anyone under sixteen, as some scenes are quite graphic in terms of violence and sexual encounters, but it is an amazing film nonetheless, and the books are even better (though lengthy, with the shortest being around six hundred pages or so).
- My next pick is also Swedish, though much tamer, a family film, really. This film is called We Are the Best! (Vi Är Bäst in Swedish). It tells of three young girls growing up in Sweden in the 1980s: Klara, Bobo, and Hedvig. They love punk, and attempt to form an all-girls punk band, although most of their peers believe the time of punk to be over. It’s not as thrilling as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but it left me with a nostalgic, warm, fuzzy sort of feeling. These girls are amazing friends, and it’s not so much a story as it is simply a peek into their lives, something American films don’t seem to do (though I wish they would). So if you’re looking for something you can watch while curled up under a blanket, this is the perfect film for you!
- Following the theme of cozy films, we are now leaving the land of Swedish cinema for the equally lovely French pictures. This film is called Blue is the Warmest Color, though in French it is La Vie d’Adèle-Chapitres 1&2, which means The Life of Adèle-Chapters 1&2. This film shows, appropriately enough, the life of a French girl, Adèle, as she goes through high school and eventually adult life and realizes that perhaps boys aren’t what she can see herself loving. It is one of the sweetest, most raw, real love stories I’ve ever seen. This is no perfect, fairytale love story. There are problems and fights, and throughout it all, you simply want to know what will happen next. This film also falls into the mature age category, with no violence, but some sexual content.
- Finally, I’m switching topics and languages completely. The last movie of this post is called, inexplicably, Chocolate, in English or in Thai. Yes, that’s right, this is a Thai movie. It doesn’t have a huge storyline, but it does have amazing fight scenes! The premise here is that the main girl, Zen, is autistic and is raised by her mother and friend, who’s around her age. The mother, Zin, was involved with the Thai mafia, but left to protect her daughter and her lover, who was a part of the rival Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. When Zin contracts cancer, the Zen’s friend finds a book of all the money people owe her (due to her mafia connections, unbeknownst to him), and tries to collect it. After nearly being beaten up (the mafia doesn’t deal with good people), he is saved by the daughter, who has honed her fighting skills by watching videos. The main storyline from then out is money collecting. While not as emotionally heart-wrenching as the others on this list, it’s still worth a watch, if only to experience the Thai language.
I hope you enjoy these selections. Leave a comment to let me know what you think of them!
Around the World is a feature about global geekery, exploring other cultures, and much more. To submit a post idea, simply leave a comment!