(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)
Love, or heartbreak, is in the air, depending on what foreign-language film or show you’re watching from this week’s Pop Culture Imports column. Is there a reason for the selection of romance-themed titles? Who can say? But whatever the case, it’s time to bask in the middle-aged heartbreak of the best Claire Denis-Juliette Binoche collaboration Let the Sunshine In, or watch two hustlers fall in love in Audrey Tatou’s Priceless. Or turn to the other side of the hemisphere to watch a romantic-comedy anime like Toradora!Whatever strikes your fancy (if your fancy is fancying someone), it’s there to stream.
So let’s fire up those subtitles, and get streaming.
Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming
Let the Sunshine In – Hulu
Genre: Romantic drama
Director: Claire Denis
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Philippe Katerine, Josiane Balasko, Gérard Depardieu.
Juliette Binoche gives a luminous performance as Isabella, a middle aged divorced artist who is desperate to find that one final love, but mostly finds fleeting connections and failed romances along the way. Based off Roland Barthes’s 1977 text A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, Let the Sunshine In lends a heart-aching pathos to the romantic-comedy, like a sensual jazz song that peters off with a few final melancholic notes. Legendary French New Wave auteur shot Let the Sunshine In, adding a sort of aimless moodiness to the film, which is director Claire Denis and Binoche’s best collaboration, and Denis’ most heartfelt, empathetic, and perhaps most accessible film.
Watch This If You Like: Frances Ha, Gloria, Fleabag, sad jazz.
Inuyasha – HBO Max, Crunchyroll, Hulu
Genre: Action fantasy anime
Director: Yasunao Aoki
One of the all-time classic animes, Inuyasha has been on several streaming platforms for many years. So why am I highlighting it now? Well, there’s a sequel coming out, which means there’s never been a better time to revisit this mid-2000s anime staple. Based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi, Inuyasha begins with Kagome Higurashi, a 15-year-old schoolgirl in contemporary Tokyo who one day falls down a well in her family shrine and finds herself transported to feudal Japan. There, she stumbles upon the half-dog demon Inuyasha, bound to an ancient tree by an enchanted arrow stuck in his chest. When she frees him to fight another attacking demon that tears a strange jewel out of her body, Kagome discovers that she is the reincarnation of a dead priestess who had protected the Shikon Jewel, which Kagome inadvertently shatters into a million pieces that scatter across Japan. The anime spans over a hundred episodes that chronicle Kagome and Inuyasha’s quest to find all the pieces, but Inuyasha is worth every minute of the two leads yelling each other’s names repeatedly.
Watch This If You Like: Outlander, Stardust, really big swords.
Une fille facile (An Easy Girl) — Netflix
Genre: Coming-of-age drama
Director: Rebecca Zlotowski
Cast: Zahia Dehar, Mina Farid, Benoît Magimel, Nuno Lopes.
Coming-of-age movies set during a lazy summer in the French Riviera are a dime a dozen, but Une fille facile (An Easy Girl), with its deliberately provocative title, aims to add a little shock and awe to the well-trodden genre. It’s not really that shocking and only sometimes worthy of awe, but the latter is mostly in newcomer Mina Farid’s performance as Naima, a teenage girl who is attracted by her beautiful cousin’s (Zahia Dehar) promiscuous lifestyle and devil-may-care attitude. Is she just attracted to the life and the freedom that it promises? Does she want to be, or be with, that beautiful cousin? Those are thoughts the movie sometimes flirts with, but never really answers, though its final resolution about Naima’s coming into her own conflicting impulses and shifting identity is just as interesting, if not more complex.
Watch This If You Like: Dirty Dancing, The Man in the Moon, yachts.
Priceless – Amazon Prime
Genre: Romantic comedy
Director: Pierre Salvadori
Cast: Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh.
Inspired by the 1961 Blake Edwards film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, there is a note of Audrey Hepburn’s sad socialite in Audrey Tautou’s gold-digging beauty in Priceless. It’s almost a fitting parallel, after all, Tautou had been one of the many waifish It Girls who had been compared to the Hollywood icon early in her career. But Tautou channels Holly Golightly with an impish glee in Priceless, a romantic-comedy that feels a little more like City Lights crossed with all the caper escapades of Heartbreakers. The film follows Gad Elmaleh’s poor bartender Jean, who is mistaken for a wealthy man by Tautou’s Irène at the hotel where he works, and falls hopelessly in love with her after they sleep together. After following her to Côte d’Azur, Jean gets taken in by a rich dowager and unwittingly becomes a hustler too. Charmed by his naiveté, Irène teaches him the art of fleecing wealthy lovers, until they, naturally, fall in love.
Watch This If You Like: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Heartbreakers, grifters falling in love.
Toradora! – Netflix
Genre: Romantic comedy anime
Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai
Cast: Junji Majima, Rie Kugimiya, Yui Horie, Hirofumi Nojima.
It’s a premise that’s familiar to anyone who’s seen a rom-com anime: two leads, in love with each other’s best friends, eventually fall in love with each other. But there’s a fun twist to Toradora! the zippy comedy about a high schooler whose popularity suffers because of his intimidating looks. It’s over the top in the most comical way — the first episode ends with the protagonist, Ryuji Takasu, accidentally agreeing to becoming a servant to Taiga Aisaka, a pint-sized hothead with a crush on his best friend who tries to kill Ryuji with a wooden sword after mistakenly giving him a love letter. There’s an almost fantastical absurdity to Toradora! which reminds me of another weird anime classic The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and the fact that they both started as light novels may explain that similarity. But contrary to Haruhi Suzumiya, Toradora! is a fairly straightforward lighthearted rom-com anime, with just enough random sword fight scenes to keep things entertaining.
Watch This If You Like: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Looking for Alaska, relating too hard to Nick Miller’s “stop being mean to me, or I swear to God I’m going to fall in love with you.”
The post Pop Culture Imports: ‘Let the Sunshine In,’ ‘Inuyasha,’ ‘Priceless,’ and More appeared first on /Film.