Robert Jackman

The must-see foreign language films to watch

  • From Spectator Life
Image: Magnolia Pictures

Fancy a more sophisticated slice of entertainment to lighten up the last few weekends of lockdown? Here’s our pick of the best foreign language films you might not have seen yet:

Minari, Amazon (to rent)

The extremely moving Minari triggered a bit of a debate when it was first nominated for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Golden Globes, with various Hollywood luminaries protesting that the (largely) Korean-language immigrant story, set in rural Arkansas, deserved to be considered for the main prize. And in many ways, they’re right: you’d be hard-pressed to find a more stirring portrayal of the American dream. Hopefully Lee Isaac Chung, the film’s Colorado-born writer and director, can take some solace in the fact his semi-autobiographical effort at least scooped the prize at hand.

Divines, Netflix

Like a feminist companion to Le Haine, Houda Benyamina’s full-length debut Divines explores the gritty reality of life in Paris’s immigrant-dominated banlieues from the perspective of two teenage girls. In a step-up from shoplifting (including making ingenious use of a burqa) and loitering, the duo end up working for a ruthless local drug dealer (female, of course) whose cash-rich life-style seems like everything they ever dreamed. There’s an irresistible swagger to this film, and a refreshing sense of humour, which more than makes up for the slightly Hollyoaks ending.

Let the Right One In, Shudder (including via Amazon)

The first of two vampire films in the list, Let the Right One In is perhaps the greatest piece of art to come out of the much-maligned emo era. The story of a bullied Swedish teenager who begins a clandestine friendship with a female vampire, the film is blessed with rich emotional dialogue that plays your heartstrings like a fiddle. As for the scenes where the school thugs get served their just desserts – well, you’ll struggle to find a more heart-warming slasher-scene in cinema history.

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