Make Sure To Add These European Films To Your Must-Watch List
If like me, you aren’t intimidated by subtitled movies, there are two hugely entertaining European films that are streaming right now on Netflix. One comes from Spain, La Tribu, directed by Fernando Coloma; and from France, Nothing to Hide (Le Jeu) from Fred Cavayé.
The Spanish film weaves a story of lapsed parenthood and today’s labor force within a world of music and dance; and the real-life phenomenon of Las Mamis, a hip-hop dance group of working, middle-aged housewives who took Spain’s Got Talent by storm in 2016. While Nothing to Hide is a contemporary parlor-room drama/comedy that deals with secrets between friends and couples, coupled with a critique on smartphones as modern technology and communication.
Starring Carmen Machi, Paco León, and Maribel Del Pino, La Tribu ruled during the Montecarlo Film Festival of 2018, copping Best Film and Best Actress for Machi. It's the kind of light-hearted comedy with moral lesson at the end that Spain produces in an endearing manner. Viral infamy is the first stage of the film, as Fidel (Paco León) heads the HR department of a big tech firm, and has just laid off hundreds of employees—but has been literally caught with his pants down, fooling around with an intern.
Fast forward a year of hiding by Fidel, and Virginia (Carmen Machi) is the mother who gave Fidel up for adoption and is only now meeting her son. A cleaning woman at a Badalona hotel, she is also part of a 10-member group of housewives who dance hip-hop at a local dance club for exercise and therapy. Fidel is struck by a bus and suffers from transient amnesia, and the film progresses, revolving around finding oneself, owning up to the wrongs you committed in the past, and charting a new tomorrow. That is does all this crowd-pleasing, while touching on social issues and producing heartfelt moments all add to a lightweight but entertaining watch.
With Nothing to Hide, Director Cavayé transitions from the action films he has built his reputation on (2010’s Point Blank), to one ripe with social commentary. On the same day of the lunar eclipse, seven friends get together at the home of one of the couples. The most familiar face in the cast would be Berenice Bejo (The Artist), but this is a strong ensemble performance, and it’s great to watch how each of the seven leave indelible impressions on us.
The basic premise is the challenge to leave all smartphones on the table, and to publicly accept calls, texts, and mail—the notion being that couples and friends shouldn’t have secrets from each other, and that privacy in this scenario, is unnecessary. Of course, this is far easier said in theory than in practice; as secrets, deceptions, and long held frustrations rear their ugly head as incoming texts and messages pour in. It’s great to watch how tightly wound the plot develops, and while there is an ending that’s something of a cop out, the journey this film takes us on before that end point, is more than satisfying. It’s a very French farce, newly minted for the iPhone generation.
So yes, you may have to break out the eyeglasses for this one, and stay glued to the screen reading subtitles; but I promise you, the reward factor is high with these two foreign films.