On too many occasions I write down foreign films to see and proceed to put off watching them for months. I don’t make the effort to catch them in theaters and end up missing out on stellar cinema. Luckily Netflix came in with the assist when I found three foreign films in it’s library on my watch list. We all spend endless time searching through Netflix’s library picking something good and then minimal time actually watching it. I’ll save you some trouble and recommend three foreign films. I’ll rank the three but they all equally impressed in storytelling.
3. The Tribe – Ukraine (2014)
In a boarding school for the deaf in Ukraine, a new young boy joins the student body. He quickly learns the hierarchy of his peers. A group of students are involved in illicit activities and dominate with viciousness. The Tribe focuses on the new student’s journey from outsider to participant in the school’s nefarious underbelly. I read much about this movie when it was making the festival circuit. I was prepared for some of the unique aspects of this film. The film is completely free of dialogue and has no subtitles. The actors communicate solely through Ukrainian sign language. I suggest this movie if you’re seeking a one of a kind experience that will leave you jarred at its conclusion. I also cautiously recommend this movie because it is quite graphic and has several disturbing scenes. One in particular is likely the worst thing I have ever seen on screen. The scene is agonizing and I covered my eyes and yelled during 70% of it. If you’re wondering why I’m suggesting this film at all it’s because I didn’t know what to think at the end. Director Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi created a film that immerses you in its world. Although this movie was my least favorite of the three, there’s no question it left the largest impression on me. Watch it if you feel prepared and willing to see something utterly powerful.
2. The Wave – Norway (2015)
A geologist named Kristian is finishing up his last day at an observatory above the village of Geiranger. A popular tourist location that has the stunning Åkerneset mountains in its background, this picturesque village is in danger. The threat of a rockslide looms over the area with the immediate effects being an 85 meter tsunami. On Kristian’s last day the readings are pointing to rapid changes on the mountain. Since the unthinkable hasn’t happened yet, his colleagues are initially dismissive of the reports. Kristian realizes his family is in danger as well as the rest of the village. I was expecting a typical disaster movie and The Wave is anything but. Human tension is the central focus and it creates unsettling moments of panic. The unnerving moments before disaster expertly paces the destruction. My favorite part of the movie is the actual wave itself was minimal. The story relies on characters to display the gravity of the situation and not endless destruction. Director Roar Uthaug brought to screen one of the best disaster movies I’ve seen in years. I strongly recommend this movie for your next Netflix night.
1. White God – Hungary (2014)
What if I told you there was a movie which is like My Girl meets Cujo and Homeward Bound. You would probably think that’s an odd mix of movies and did I mention this film is also about a canine uprising? In White God, a young girl name Lili and her dog Hagen are separated after Lili is forced to live with her father. Lili’s father refuses to pay the pet registration at his flat and does an awful thing. Hagen is left to fend for himself in the streets and quickly finds enemies. Animal Control constantly round up the stray dogs in the city with chances of adoption being zero to none. Hagen does his best to avoid danger, but a notorious network of dog fighting rings eventually grab him. White God takes us through Hagen’s journey, a tale both heartbreaking and inspiring. Hagen is a changed dog and Lili holds hope that she’ll find him. Hagen in his arc becomes a rallying figure for all strays in the city. The story is thrilling throughout and was a genuine surprise. There are aspects of White God which are tough to watch in relation to animal abuse but the film does well villainizing the perpetrators. I found this film to be the most entertaining of the three and came away with a new spirit animal in the name of Hagen. This story about a girl and her dog I can’t recommend highly enough.
Foreign fIlms are an investment and these suggestions are well worth the time. Get your reading state of mind ready for subtitles and sit back. Watch these movies and let me know what you think. Now it’s time for me to make some more headway with the other titles on my foreign films watch list. I’ll make sure to recommend more soon.