TCS Recommends: Our favourite foreign films

Eliza Dickinson 9 March 2017

TCS writers tell us their favourite foreign films and why they love them.


Emer O’Hanlon: A Summer’s Tale

After a ten minute opening in which the main character Gaspard buys a crepe, Eric Rohmer’s A Summer’s Tale follows the story of his summer holiday in Dinard. While waiting for his girlfriend to show up, he becomes involved with not one, but two other women: Solene with whom he has great sex but shares very few interests, and Margot, a waitress with whom he discusses philosophy during long walks together, but who doesn’t have a romantic interest in him. Rohmer’s films are never plot-heavy – they’re more often understated character studies. This may make the film sound terribly pretentious, but the wonderful thing about it is that it never crosses that line. It stays light, funny and engaging. It is at once the most stereotypically French film I’ve ever seen, and yet also a film which defies categorisation and is quite unlike anything I’ve seen before.


Charlie Crisp: Spirited Away

Spirited Away is a beautiful and moving story about a girl – Chihiro – who is plunged into a mysterious and alien world and must embark upon a journey to find her parents. It’s a tale of fear, friendship and fantasy which is accompanied with spectacular imagery and a classic Studio Ghibli score. A definite ‘must-watch’ for all ages.


Eliza Dickinson: Goodbye Lenin!

This German film follows a young man, Alex, whose mother, a staunch East German Communist, has a heart attack just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Told by a doctor that she must not receive any shocks, Alex must hide the fall of the wall and the arrival of capitalism in East Germany from his mother. What follows is an often hilarious but also very touching film as Alex spends more and more time trying to protect his family from the truth.


Dee Dee Lee: The Intouchables

Imagine Me Before You but replace the romance with bromance. This charming and uplifting French drama based on a true story is one of my favourites. After becoming a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires an ex-con to be his caregiver. Their employer-employee relationship soon evolves into friendship as they open up new vistas for each other in ways neither could anticipate. It’s not about disability or race; it’s about the beauty of friendship and how people cross paths and change each other’s lives. Packed with jokes and positive messages, The Intouchables will put a smile on your face.


Dee Dee Lee: The Way Home

There’s something about Korean films and Grandmas. In The Way Home, Mom left the little spoilt brat with his mute granny in the countryside as she looked for a job in the city. At first, the boy was hostile to the poor old lady, but slowly, he grew fond of her and came to admire and respect her. Because the Grandma is mute, many of the scenes are without dialogue. There are moments that’ll leave you aghast and make you smile/cry. It’ll remind you of your Nan and make you want to visit her first thing after term ends.


Kasia Ruszkowski: La Vita Ѐ Bella

La Vita Ѐ Bella is a touching 1997 Italian film about the struggle of an Italian Jewish family to survive internment in a Nazi concentration camp. Despite the harrowing subject matter the film retains an optimistic tone and disarming sense of humour, though the story is no less poignant for this. The film won multiple Oscars (rare for a foreign-language film) and for good reason; Piovani’s original score is suitably moving, while Benigni’s acting is hilarious and imaginative. If you’re looking for a film that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure, I can think of nothing better to watch than this haunting comedy-drama.