Please keep in mind these are not the most famous French movies, nor the classics, but they are listed here because they are somewhat easy to understand for French learners. Understanding movies in French is a BIG challenge, so don’t feel bad if you cannot do it. Just use the subtitles and enjoy the movie :-)
Most of these movies are all available on Netflix, and you can definitely find extracts on YouTube.
You should also read my post on “how to improve your French with French movies“.
And if you have suggestions on other EASY-TO-UNDERSTAND French movies, please add them for the benefit of all in a comment below. Thank you in advance.
And if movies are just too difficult, my French audio books and novels are just the right level for students of French.
1 – “Kirikou et la Sorcière” (1998)
Easy enough for a beginner student, like any of the movies from Michel Ocelot. They are animated films, and wonderful for French learners since the characters speak very slowly and enunciate a lot. Many of the movies take place in Africa, so it’s a good introduction to French African accent, granted that some characters have a stronger accent than others (Kirikou has almost no accent).
2 – La Marche de l’empereur (2004)
A documentary by Luc Jacquet about Emperor Penguins and their very difficult lives. It’s obviously a voice over. These documentaries are easier to understand since only one person talks, the sound quality is usually optimal, and the speaker has been chosen for his beautiful voice. The vocabulary can be a challenge, but the images are beautiful. Another movie like this one is Le Peuple Migrateur (2001).
3 – Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran (2002)
By François Dupeyron. A charming movie about the friendship between a young Jewish boy and a Turkish shop owner (played by Omar Sharif). Omar Sharif speaks really slowly, there is not a lot of dialogue, and it is mostly between the 2 main characters, so I find this movie particularly easy to understand.
4 – Potiche (2010)
By François Ozon, with a great panel of French actors. Set in 1977, this comedy portrays the emancipation of a trophy wife (Catherine Deneuve) who spends most of her days catering to her husband (Fabrice Luchini) but ends up taking his job and running the factory. It’s fun, and even if the actors speak very fast, they take their turn speaking, which makes it a bit easier to understand.
5 – Les Choristes (2003)
Is a drama with a lot of songs. In 1949, a new teacher assembles a choir in a boarding institution for “difficult” boys, leading to a transformation in the children. The film features beautiful songs that were a huge hit among children in France: many choruses started in schools thanks to that movie. I didn’t find this movie particularly easy, but many of my students named it in their top 10, so I am taking their word for it.
6 – Les parapluies de Cherbourg (1964)
A BIG French classic, but most of my students recommended it. It’s a musical with Catherine Deneuve by Jacques Demy. Super romantic story, the actors speak slowly and there are many famous songs.
7 – OSS 117, Le Caire, nid d’espions (2006)
Is a comedy with Oscar-winning French actor Jean Dujardin. A spoof on a James Bond like character. A huge success in France, well played, easy to follow.
8 – Un Coeur en Hiver (1992)
With Emmanuelle Béart and Daniel Auteuil. A lot of dialogue but mostly between two people. Not a comedy, but certainly a good French movie.
9 – Il y a longtemps que je t’aime (2008)
By Philippe Claudel. A very, very, very sad movie. Be ready to cry. One of my favorites though: Kristin Scott Thomas is brilliant, her French is amazing, and she is very easy to understand.
10 -The movies of Francis Weber
Featuring his fragile and naive character François Pignon (ou François Perrin). The most famous ones are Le Jouet, La Chèvre, Les Compères, Le Grand Blond avec Une chaussure noire, Le Dîner de cons, Le Placard… For more info go to http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Veber. Dark comedies, the movies are often both hilarious and a bit sad. Although the actors speak very fast, it’s mostly dialogue, and a lot of visual puns, so they are a bit on the easier side.