Films and series to watch to improve your French in July

Work on your language skills and celebrate the annual Fête du cinéma

Pierre Niney stars as the eponymous count in the recently released Count of Monte Cristo
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It can sometimes feel like a tiring process to learn French, particularly when nose deep in grammar books and verb tables.

However, there are other ways to pick up the language, and a relaxing but informative way can be through watching films and TV shows in French.

Currently, the Fête du Cinema is on, promoting a slew of new French language films.

The four-day event is now in its 39th year, and will run until Wednesday (July 3).

Cinema tickets for participating films and cinemas cost just €5 and the event has historically helped to boost cinema attendance numbers for French language films. 

Read more: Fête du cinéma to open with new adaptation of classic French novel

Watching films and series is actually one of the best ways to improve your language skills.

The best way to learn is via watching the film or show in French. If you need subtitles, you can easily turn the option on when at home, or if you are going to the cinema you can find a showing catering to people with hearing impairments, which will have subtitles (in French). 

Here are five films and TV shows – some new, and some already released – you can watch this month to improve your French.

Cinquième set

With France set for a summer of sport, Cinquième set might be just the film to prepare you for the weeks to come. 

The plot follows an ageing tennis player who competes in qualifying for the French Open, hoping for one last shot of victory on home ground after a subpar career. 

Despite the people around him willing him to give up the battle, Thomas Edison (yes, that is the character’s name) continually goes against their advice, trying to find the success he once knew as a younger prodigy. 

The film was actually shot at Roland Garros, making director Quentin Reynaud the first French director to be granted authorisation to film on the grounds. 

Having premiered in 2020, Cinquième Set is now available to watch on Netflix. 

Johnny Hallyday: Beyond Rock (Johnny par Johnny)

If music is more your cup of tea, why not try this eye-opening series.

For fans of rock icon Johnny Hallyday, this intimate documentary allows you to dive headfirst into some of the deepest secrets of France’s most beloved rockstar.

Credited with having brought rock and roll to France, he is considered a national treasure and continually tops lists as one of France’s most iconic musicians.

The docuseries, available on Netflix, uses archived footage and interviews to paint a picture of the singer’s life, starting with his early career and offering insight into an often turbulent home life. 

Read more: These 10 songs can help you improve your French

Laura Felpin: ça passe

If you enjoyed recent comedies Lol: qui rit sort, or Le Flambeau, you are sure to enjoy the comedy special of Laura Felpin, available on Canal+. 

The comedian is no stranger to our screens, starring in the aforementioned Le Flambeau and recent Asterix et Obelix film, but this time she is centre-stage for a one-woman solo stand-up show.

A former winner of a Molière award for comedy, Felpin assumes numerous different characters throughout an 80-minute set, muddling them together to create hilarious results. 

You can see a segment of the show below. 

Hot Ones 

For those unfamiliar with Hot Ones, it provides a devilish twist on the traditional interview format, seeing celebrities asked questions as they eat increasingly spicier hot sauces – and suffer as a consequence.

The French version of the show, which was first made famous in the United States, is available on Canal+ and sees some of France’s most famous faces interviewed as they face the difficult task. 

Each of the ten questions asked by the interviewer is accompanied by a different sauce – which gets progressively hotter – to dip some food into.

Whilst the sauces are there – in theory – to help loosen the tongue of the guests and help them answer the more difficult questions, they also cause plenty of hilarious moments to ensue as people struggle to deal with the heat.

Some episodes of the show are also available on YouTube.

Le Comte de Monte-Cristo 

Rounding up our recommendations for July is the much anticipated Count of Monte Cristo.

The adaptation is of course based on the book of the same name penned by Alexandre Dumas, and premiered in French cinemas at the end of June.

Set at the beginning of Louis XVIII’s reign, a young man, Edouard Dantes, is arrested on his wedding day for a crime he professes that he did not commit.

After 14 years imprisonment, he escapes and becomes hugely wealthy, allowing him to return to his previous life under the guise of Monte-Cristo, determined to bring revenge on those who stitched him up. 

Starring Pierre Niney – perhaps one of the most recognisable French actors at the moment – the film received a lot of hype and opened to rave reviews last week.