The Best French Period Films to Stream in September
Period films are a special and extravagant breed. The costumes, the faraway lands, the exotic customs. We love French films because we can escape into a different world, but there's just something about stepping into a different time. Whether they be on Amazon, Netflix or Youtube Movies, here are our top 7 suggestions of the best French period films to stream right now.
Lea Seydoux is enchanting as the embittered Célestine, a young chambermaid sent to work for the wealthy Lanlaire couple in Normandy. You really feel for the lost and pitiful girl born into servant's rank in turn of the 19th century France, but her circumstances don't diminish her bold and resourceful spirit in the slightest. Directed by by Benoît Jacquot in 2015, this is the third time the novel of the same name, originally written in 1900, has been adapted for film. Earlier versions were Jean Renoir's film in 1946 and Luis Buñuel's in 1964.
300 years ago, ladies and gents didn't have access to Tinder, but they still had relationship troubles. The Marquis des Arcis (Édouard Baer) is one notorious ladies' man. When, against her better judgement, Lady J (Cécile de France) falls for this Cassanova who promises her unending passion, she, like his ex-lovers before her, is inevitably discarded. After being humiliatingly identified as just another fling, you would expect our heroine to sit back, stewing in a resentful vat of betrayal. However, this is Madame de la Pommeraye we're talking about and she has another plan in mind.
Ovation doesn't have a ton of notorious shows under its belt, but we absolutely adored this one. To be truthful, it's not a French speaking series, but it is a Franco-Canadian production, and obviously, the subject matter is to relevant to pass up. Who doesn't like brushing up on their Versailles history? If pageantry, theatrics, and extravagence with a touch of soap opera is what you're after, this is the binge-inducing series for you. The show tells the story of Louis XIV or the "Sun King" as he's famously called, the longest reigning European monarch in history who built the palace of Versailles.
Slack Bay is a truly wacky, think outside the box, extraordinary comedy that is delightfully cast, and a real mood lifter. The film is jam packed with the best of the best, including Fabrice Luchini, Juliette Binoche, and Valeria Bruni. The Age calls director Bruno Dumont "one of the few genuine visionaries in modern cinema".
For the artists among us, Cezanne et moi is a heartbreakingly beautiful historical drama that takes place on picturesque valleys and mountains as it tells the story of two lifelong friends that grow up to be masters of the pen and paintbrush. Novelist Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet) discovers fame and success while Paul Cezanne toils in obscurity and resentment. Director Danièle focuses not on the professional paths of these two notable artists of the 19th century, but on their intimate friendship.
Don't let the soft black and white style fool you; Frantz is fraught with the heartbreak of post-war Europe, complex heros and forbidden love. Frantz's ghost haunts the film as a fallen WWII soldier. Anna (Paula Beer), Frantz's betrothed, decorates his grave every day with flowers of mourning. One day, she discovers fresh flowers already added, and a mysterious Frenchman crying in front of the grave on another. She soon gets to know Adrien (Yves Saint Laurent's Pierre Niney), also a veteran of the war, who apparently had a long friendship with Frantz. Her family rejects the newcomer as they view all French people as murderers, but Anna can't help but dive into the intriguing history of the two men... François Ozon directs.
What can we say? Anyone who knows a dollop about style or has a love of all things je ne sais quoi is bound to worship the fascinating Coco Chanel at one time or another. We're familiar with the brand name, the prominent fashion house, and the iconic Chanel No. 5. Not many of us however, ponder the history of how Gabrielle Chanel, daughter of a laundress and a street vendor achieved worldwide fashion visionary status. Coco Before Chanel does a dazzling job of bringing her story to life, starring the irrefutably Chanel-esque Audrey Tautou. Fun fact: Chanel Art Director, Karl Lagerfeld supervised the creation of accessories and costumes for the film!