Foreign Language Films You’ll Want to Watch in 2019
Foreign language films have never been more talked about in and around the industry than this year after Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma picked up three awards at this year’s Oscars, having been nominated in 10 categories including Best Picture. Hopefully, this brighter spotlight being shone on films from around the globe will mean they continue to garner the greater attention many of them deserve. Here are some of the most anticipated foreign language films heading to cinemas near you in 2019.
Directed by Samuel Maoz this visually striking, surreal black comedy focusses on the grief of a family who find out their soldier son has been killed and the downtime and boredom among an Isreali border patrol force who are stationed in a shipping container on the frontline. The film was shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2018 and in a Roma-less year may well have got the prize.
Written by John Ajvide Lindqvist who penned the brilliant Scandi vampire movie, Let the Right One in, this curious genre crossing Swedish fantasy film is about an unusual neanderthal looking customs officer with the ability to sniff out any shame, fear and guilt of passengers passing through her gate. When she meets a man with similar facial features and traits she has to question everything she’s been told about her existence. A modern fairytale for the ages.
Everybody Knows (Spain)
This slow burning psychological thriller starring Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz, follows character Laura (Cruz) on her travels from Argentina to her small home town in Spain for her sister’s wedding, with her two kids. But while the festivities are in full swing her eldest daughter is abducted. In the tense days that follow, various family and community tensions surface and deeply hidden secrets are revealed.
The Quake (Norway)
This nerve-jangling disaster movie sequel to The Wave (2015) made in Oslo never got a cinema release over here but is out on DVD this month and is well worth investing your time in. The geologist who tried to warn everybody about the imminent tsunami in the first film, Kristian Eikjord, here tries to warn everyone about a massive earthquake, but again to more deaf ears. A huge quake wreaks havoc on the city leaving Kristian trying to save the lives of his family and others caught up in the devastation.
Happy as Lazarro (Italy)
Director Alice Rohrwacher’s strangely enchanting tale was a favourite foreign language film at a number of festivals last year. The story sees Lazzaro, a young Italian peasant who strikes up a friendship with Tancredi, a nobleman of the same age who’s spoilt by his own imagination. Things get weird when Tancredi asks his new friend to help him orchestrate his own kidnapping, leading to… let’s say spiritual time-travel, so as not to spoil the whole film.
The perfect director to take on a biopic of one of the most notorious politicians in modern times, former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, is Paolo Sorrentino, the man who brought The Young Pope so dazzlingly to our screens. This two-part film stars an incredible Toni Servillo who turns it up to eleven in his portrayal of the power and women loving billionaire. The movie, of course, uses plenty of artistic license, but unveils a complex character in Berlusconi and the fascinating cast of characters that operated around him.
Woman At War (Iceland)
This quirky Icelandic eco-drama follows mild-mannered choir conductor Halla who moonlights as an environmental activist, known as “The Woman of the Mountain”, who takes actions into her own hands against the local aluminum industry. Halla’s protests grow from petty vandalism to explosive sabotage, but right before planning her boldest move against the companies she’s confronted with a dilemma when her application for adoption is accepted. It’s a charming tale with a great central performance.
Asako I & II (Japan)
This low key romantic doppelganger drama from Japan sees a love triangle unfold between a young woman Asako and two identical looking men she meets at different points in her life who both have completely different personalities. When she can’t work out which guy she loves, she becomes trapped in a confused and indecisive state of mind in this philosophical meditation on love and loss.
The Wandering Earth (China)
This Chinese sci-fi blockbuster smash was released last month and is so far the global highest-grossing global film of 2019 so far. No surprise then that streaming giants Netflix have bought the rights to this £459 million-grossing flick. The Wandering Earth is set in a future where humanity is forced to unite together to save the earth from the sun’s imminent explosion. Sounds like a blast.
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