3 Must-See Foreign Films for Teens Dreaming of a Euro Trip

If you’re American, then you and your kids have probably already put “Going to Europe” on your bucket list. Whether or not you’ve crossed it off, here are three fab flicks sure to get those passports renewed! All of these movies are Rated-R, mainly for language… So proceed with caution as you see fit, but rest-assured these are all champs (each of them is an award-winning film and a classic).

Ireland: The Commitments

1991, R

Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins), a self-proclaimed music promoter, decides to organize an R&B group to fill what he sees as a musical void in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland. As it turns out, after an exhaustive search and audition process, the band comes together but ends up consisting entirely of white musicians who know diddly-squat about Bo Diddley, or any black musicians for that matter. Even though their raw talent and unstoppable aspirations gain The Commitments notoriety, the pitfalls of fame began to fray their friendship as they prepare for a big concert.

The Commitments shows Dublin at its dreariest and most depressing… and showcases the hopeful resilience and luck of the Irish. The soundtrack is also amazing – the album was a big hit all over the world after the movie came out.

England: Love, Actually

2003, R

There are nine storylines, one wedding, one funeral, and lots of alumni from the beloved Brit rom-coms Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones‘s Diary. All of this adds up to a sweet, and sometimes bittersweet, holiday film that’s very much immersed in the Anglo way of life.

The wedding party is for Juliet (Kiera Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), but Peter’s best friend, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is a less-than jubilant guest. Daniel’s (Liam Neeson) wife has died and after the funeral, he helps his young stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) cope. Then there’s the new, good-looking Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), who’s attracted to his tea lady, Natalie (Martine McCutcheon). The Prime Minister’s older sister, Karen (Emma Thompson) is concerned about her husband Harry’s (Alan Rickman) attraction his young, frisky secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch). There are several kids in the movie too, and they’re fully realized characters, not just background players.

Love, Actually is a heartwarming and charming tale, without resorting to undue heartstring tugging. The love stories aren’t all romantic, either – Love, Actually feels the love between father and son, sister and brother, and friend and friend. It is sort of a microcosm of the British social classes, showing that everyone from the Prime Minister to a waiter still has the same basic life experience.

France: Amelie

2001, R

Amelie (Audrey Tautou) is a coltish young Parisian barista with a vivid imagination and a heart that longs for love. One day, she discovers a box of childhood treasures that’s been hidden beneath her apartment floorboards since the 1940’s, and hunts the owner down. She anonymously returns it and watches from a distance as the old man is moved to tears of joy by the discovery. Thus begins her mission: to bring happiness to other people’s lives. Amelie does it with panache, but modestly, in that she always maintains her anonymity. Then she crosses paths with an unusual young man named Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz), and sets about, in her own enigmatic way, to do for herself what she’s done for others.

Amelie is as wonderful and feel-good as one might guess, but without being the least bit maudlin. What’s more, the cinematography and the music are truly outstanding – the look and feel of the film is unique and perfectly suited to the subject matter. This is fanciful France at its very best.

Still waiting on that Euro trip? What are some of your favorite flicks that help tide you over? Share with us!

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Afshin Behnia
Not as high quality as the 3 in the article, but L'Auberge Espagnole is decent for those dreaming of Spain.