The 100 best French films: 80-61



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India Song (1975)

Director: Marguerite Duras

Duras' main protagonist is Anne-Marie Stretter (Seyrig), a bored consular wife in '30s India, and the film details the languorous desperation that drives her to suicide. But the formal approach to this subject is like nothing


La Collectionneuse (1967)

Director: Eric Rohmer

The third of Rohmer's six moral tales, and the first of his films to achieve wide recognition. The collector of the title is a delectable nymphet, footloose in St Tropez, who makes a principle of sleeping with a different man


Le Grand Détournement / La Classe américaine (1993)

Directors: Michel Hazanavicius et Dominique Mézerette


The Night Caller (1975)

Director: Henri Verneuil

Belmondo plays super-cop on the tops of Paris buildings and undergound trains, piling stunt on daredevil stunt and risking his neck for a particularly silly story. Like The Eiger Sanction, there's some mileage in seeing a star


The City of Lost Children (1995)

Director: Marc Caro et Jean-Pierre Jeunet

A child smiles delightedly in his toy-filled room as Santa emerges from the chimney-piece, but joy turns to terror as the bearded visitor is followed by more of the same; cut to a man screaming in a laboratory


Clean Slate (1981)

Director: Bertrand Tavernier

Purists may object to Tavernier's treatment of Jim Thompson's excellent if sordid and sadistic thriller, Pop.1280, but this eccentric, darkly comic look at a series of bizarre murders is stylishly well-crafted, and


Le Doulos (1962)

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

Darker than Bob le Flambeur, Melville's second foray into the Parisian underworld borrows its epigraph from Céline: 'One must choose: die... or lie?' Appropriately, in a film devoted to the principle of duplicity,


L'Age d'or (1930)

Director: Luis Bunuel

'Our sexual desire has to be seen as the product of centuries of repressive and emasculating Catholicism... it is always coloured by the sweet secret sense of sin,' mused Buñuel in his autobiography My Last Breath. One might


Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1979)

Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Godard's return to celluloid after a decade of experiment in video is in one sense forced: the sources of finance for his projects were drying up, and he himself admits that the film was made as a passport back into the


Fill ‘er Up With Super (1976)

Director: Alain Cavalier


Du côté d'Orouët (1973)

Director: Jacques Rozier


La Piscine (1968)

Director: Jacques Deray

Four characters. A Mediterranean villa. Sun, sex and… suspicion. The ingredients are fairly simple in this welcome reissue for a star-powered psychological thriller which has remained underexposed on these shores. Perhaps


A Christmas Tale (2008)

Director: Arnaud Desplechin


Loulou (1980)

Director: Maurice Pialat

‘Loulou’ is a challenging, absorbing example of the awkward beauty of the late Maurice Pialat. Superficially, it’s a keenly observed, naturalist, semi-improvised, hand-shot ‘slice-of-life’, set in the post-Women’s


La Beauté du diable (1950)

Director: René Clair

In spite/because of what must have seemed impeccable credentials - Clair, the two leads, a screenplay by dramatist Armand Salacrou, and nostalgic, Méliès-inspired sets by Barsacq - this version of the Faust legend is a turgidly


A Prophet (2009)

Director: Jacques Audiard

Filmmakers love a good prison. No, scrub that, filmmakers adore a bad prison. You can see why. For writers and directors, the volatile jail is a ready-made theatre, its prisoners and guards with their various conflicts and


La Chienne (1931)

Director: Jean Renoir

M Legrand, a mild-mannered, middle-aged cashier, uses painting as a means of expression, of escape from his shrewish wife and the tedium of his job. After an accidental encounter with femme fatale Lulu (Marèze), he falls madly in


Le Goût des autres (1999)

Director: Agnès Jaoui

Castella is an industrialist, married, temporarily inconvenienced by the presence of a bodyguard while a sensitive business deal is ironed out. In his own world, he's king. A dutiful (groundbreaking) trip to the theatre is a


Je t'aime, je t'aime (1968)

Director: Alain Resnais

One of Resnais' most underrated explorations of the tone of time and memory. Claude Ridder (Rich), a failed suicide, is visited by two men who invite his cooperation in an experiment (already tried with a mouse) to project him


Napoléon (1927)

Director: Abel Gance

Bambi Ballard's latest restoration of cinema's supreme, grandiloquent epic (63 mins longer than the version premiered by Kevin Brownlow in 1979, tinted and with an extended three-screen climax) is the closest we're ever likely to


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