The 25 Best French Romantic Films of All Time

18. The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax, 1991)


The second film by Carax in this list is even more romantic than “Mauvais Sang” since its story is more clear and touching. This film is great, not only because of Carax’s immense visual beauty, ardent direction, stylistic cinematography, and poetic traits, but because of the unprecedented performances from its actor and actress.

Denis Lavant and Juliette Binoche are vagrants who end up falling for each other, but Denis has more romantic feelings than Juliette.

At one point, Denis finds out the truth about Juliette, that she had fallen in love with a music composer. He always used to compose for her and Juliette always paints for him. But something happened between them which led to the breakup of their relationship, and that’s the very reason that Juliette comes to the streets.

Her past becomes the main problem for Denis because he is afraid that she will leave him.


19. Bitter Moon (Roman Polanski, 1992)

bitter moon

The second film from Polanski on this list, many cinephiles hesitate to accept “Bitter Moon” as a romantic film, but it is. Why can’t a erotic film, which has more clearly shown a doomed marriage, especially focusing on the physical (sexual) relationship, be seen as romantic?

The truth is that sex and jealousy are the crucial factors of love and marriage as well. Many critics and cinephiles may find it too annoying that Polanski cast his own wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, as an insatiably promiscuous woman who performed many sexual scenes with more than one man in this erotically charged film.

At first, a man and a woman fall in love with each other, especially sensually. Then euphoria comes, which can’t stay any longer. They are fed up and bored with each other. They even try to ignore each other. The husband even frequently hurts her by making her jealous, but he didn’t know that his wife is a master player when it comes to love, jealousy, and sex.


20. A Heart in Winter (Claude Sautet, 1992)

A Heart in Winter

Maurice Ravel’s piano music has a great role in this unrequited love story, since it has a perfect coherence with its characters, their love and feelings, and the story of the film itself. Sautet has achieved one of the greatest romantic films that show a triangular love story.

A woman violinist (Emmanuelle Beart) falls in love with her husband’s musical partner (Daniel Auteuil), who is commissioned to produce an instrument for her. There comes a point when she even leaves her husband for Daniel, but she ends up finding out that he doesn’t return her love at all.

Don’t miss this intensely romantic and heart-rending film.


21. Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993)

Three Colors Red (1994)

The genius and master director Kieslowski has chosen an impenetrable, absurd, meditating and strange type of story to show the complexities of love. There are many characters and some stories interconnected with each other. The whole film is full of infidelity, but if you understand this film, then you’ll know that it is all about love. That love is felt by a single man at a wrong time but for the right woman.

The whole film is a love obsession of that single man (Jean-Louis Trintignant), who was betrayed by his girlfriend during his youth; his younger life is very cleverly shown from a seemingly different man’s life, which is exactly same as Jean’s life. Don’t get confused by that. You can even assume that the man is Jean himself. This type of film is very difficult to explain, since it leads to more complication.

After the betrayal, he only sees infidelity everywhere, in each and every relationship. He remains single his whole life and believes no one. In old age, when he seems to be only waiting for death, he ends up meeting a girl (Irene Jacob), and only then he starts to change. He feels she is the very woman who is right for him. But that love is extremely complex. He can’t do anything except imagine that if only he had met her during his youth, then his life would be different.


22. Wild Reeds (Andre Techine, 1994)

Wild Reeds

Techine is one of the best post-French New Wave directors; he belongs to the second generation of French critics related with Cahiers du Cinema. He has given classics like “My Favorite Season”, “Les Voleurs”, and this film, “Wild Reeds”, which is probably the best coming-of-age film and his masterpiece, inspired by his own life.

Set during the Algerian war, this film shows the teenage life of some boys and girls. It doesn’t have particular plot like many other French films, but it is mainly focused on the character of its characters. Though it shows bisexual relationships, an important twist comes when one of its characters discover his homosexuality and becomes infatuated with one of his friends, but his crush is bisexual and just aroused his curiosity.

The conversations and character of the film’s characters are incredibly real and poignant. Don’t miss this, as it’s one of the greatest French films.


23. Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)


This list would be incomplete without this famous film that is mainly about the character of its protagonist, Amelie (Audrey Tautou). Apart from Jeunet’s brilliant direction, Tautou’s performance, screenplay, cinematography, story, other characters and Yann Tiersen’s music are also equally great in this romantic comedy.

Its story is similar to the second part of Wong Kar-Wai’s romantic masterpiece “Chungking Express”. Amelie, whose asocial childhood makes her character schizoid, tries to make everybody happy during her youth.

At one point, she falls in love with a guy but she can never speak with him, so she does certain things to make him happy. He slowly becomes aware, but doesn’t know who is doing all this to him. He tries to find her, but to no avail. These running and chasing activities between Amelie and her crush are romantic and funny.

Although all of you must have seen it, don’t miss this feel-good romantic film.


24. Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)

Bright Star

The only film made by woman on this list, not by an ordinary female director, but by the great director Jane Campion whose films are generally immensely beautiful and intensely romantic. “Bright Star” is quite enough to claim her greatness, a biopic of famous romantic poet John Keats, especially his love story and the latter stage of his life.

It is possibly the most beautiful color film and probably the most visually stunning film on this list. One great thing about a woman director or any female artist is that they take care of little things that have a great impact in human relationships, and Campion is no exception. She doesn’t show love from the viewpoint of Keats, but from his lover.

A highly fashionable and extremely beautiful girl ends up meeting with Keats but doesn’t like him at first. Then she goes home, buys his book and reads his poems—just to know whether he is an idiot or not. She falls in love with him, even though she doesn’t understand his poems completely.

Then she meets with Keats and asks him to teach her poems, and they fall in love with each other. But as happiness can’t last any longer, they end up facing many difficulties. Watch it to know what.


25. Rust and Bone (Jacques Audiard, 2012)

Rust and Bone

Famous for his prison crime drama “A Prophet”, Audiard has given us another classic, “Rust and Bone”, which is about an unusual and interesting love story since it deals with the romantic relationship between a very manly and violent man (Matthias Schoenaerts) and a gorgeous woman (Marion Cotillard) with no legs.

Matthias, who has a son and who is a bouncer (he has a deep passion for fighting as well), falls in love with the beautiful Marion, who is a killer whale trainer. During her job, a whale cuts off her two legs, but she received a chance to have love and intimacy with Matthias. But the problem with Matthias is that he doesn’t care too much about Marion, and makes love with any woman he wants.

The main thing about this film is the character of the male and female leads, and the development and tension of their love.