Must-watch foreign language films in 2019
With Cannes behind us and the end of the year in sight, it's time to plan which foreign-language films to watch. Here are the titles to keep on your radar
France: By the Grace of God, Non-Fiction
French filmmaker François Ozon makes a dramatic shift from the sexual psychodrama of L'Amant Double for his latest film, which is radical in the fact that he tampers down on his usual genre flair for a straightforward but urgent drama. Inspired by Lyon's Catholic church abuse scandal, By the Grace of God is a triptych of survivors' stories in which they confront their traumatic pasts at the hands of the church together, and try to prevent it from happening again.
By the Grace of God will be released in UK cinemas on 25 October 2019.
Well-to-do Parisians floating through life (and monogamy) is a bona fide rite of passage for French directors, and this year marks Olivier Assayas's turn. He follows his two collaborations with Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper) with a ponderous observation of the world of publishing, humorously equating an editor's struggle to accept the digitisation of novels with his mid-life crisis. Casual relationship drama aside, Non-Fiction is light and breezy, like a short novel read on a Sunday afternoon.
Non-Fiction will be released in UK cinemas on 18 October 2019.
Brazilian filmmaker Alejandro Landes uses the backdrop of the Colombian civil war to tell a dizzying story of teenage angst and global chaos in Monos. If the premise recalls Lord of the Flies or Heart of Darkness, it’s a deliberate link Landes makes. The lightning-sharp film uses a very real, still ongoing exterior conflict to evoke the interior angst of these kids growing up at war with the entire world, as well as themselves.
Monos will be released in UK cinemas on 25 October 2019
Spain: Pain and Glory
Banderas is back – and he's going more method than ever
Famed Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar directs Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory, in which the actor plays a fading film director recalling his life. Alongside Banderas, with whom Almodóvar last worked on 2011's The Skin I Live In, is Penelope Cruz, whom he cast in 2006's Volver, as well as (an interesting twist) neo-flamenco sensation Rosalía. Longing, beauty and pain – this is definitely classic Almodóvar territory.
Pain and Glory is released in UK cinemas on 23 August 2019.
Argentina: La Flor
Clocking in at just short of 14 hours and split into three parts, Mariano Llinás's genre-hopping epic is not for the weary viewer. Over six episodes, the film defies cinematic conventions at every turn, flitting between B-movie, thriller and musical. The episodes have nothing in common except their four lead actresses (Pilar Gamboa, Elisa Carricajo, Laura Paredes and Valeria Correa) who embody radically different characters with their chameleonic abilities. Well-timed bathroom breaks are recommended.
La Flor will be released in UK cinemas on 13 September 2019.
Canada: Matthias & Maxime
Cannes darling Xavier Dolan returns with his most mature film to date, a story of friendship and repressed affection in Matthias & Maxime. The filmmaker stars as one of the two title boys, Max, as him and his best friend Maxime are asked to share a kiss for a student film and must reckon with conflicting feelings. It's more calm than previous outings, cherishing the subjects Dolan knows best with a warm sense of confidence.
Matthias & Maxime is yet to receive a UK release date.
South Korea: Parasite
From the brilliant mind that envisaged Okja and Snowpiercer comes a new social thriller that blew the competition out of the water and won the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Parasite sees South Korean master Bong Joon-Ho return on thrilling form, as his portrait of a scavenging family very quickly unravels with funny, violent, intelligent and truly shocking results.
Parasite will be released in 2020 by Artificial Eye.