You need to watch these 5 intercultural romantic films
Romantic films are one of the most popular genres, but binational couples are not often portrayed on screen.
Yet, many aspects of intercultural love, such as culture shocks, language barrier, or misunderstandings, offer great narrative opportunities for screenwriters.
This is why I selected for you five love stories across borders: these films will make you laugh, cry, learn more about History, and reflect on your own relationship.
No time to lose, let’s start with one of my favorite movies. I’m a Frenchie after all…
1) 2 days in Paris directed by Julie Delpy (2007)
Countries : France & United States
This comedy is without any doubt the film about intercultural love that makes me laugh most. You will follow the adventures of Marion, a French woman living in New York, who comes to Paris with her American boyfriend, Jack, for a weekend.
They plan on spending two days at her parent’s house, stroll in Paris and have some fun with Marion’s friends. But the weekend is not going to go as expected…
“This isn’t Paris. This is hell.”
In fact, this movie is not your usual romance set in Paris. Rather, it is a contemplation of incompatibility, as Paris brings out a side of Marion that Jack has never quite seen.
Meeting her parents also turns out to be a nightmare. Jack has to deal with her father quizzing him on French culture while eating some strange French food.
With a great sense of rhythm, this movie explores cultural differences through the frightened eyes of an American, who discovers some rather peculiar French habits.
2 days in Paris is a refreshing comedy portraying two original, quirky characters: a perfect entertainment to talk about relationships and culture shocks with a cynical tone.
And if you can’t get enough, you can watch 2 days in NY, a sequel of the movie about Marion and her new boyfriend in New York.
Can’t wait? Watch the trailer here!
2) The Big Sick directed by Michael Showalter (2017)
Countries : Pakistan & United States
The Big Sick is the kind of film you don’t expect much from but ends up to be a very good surprise.
It tells the story of Kumail, a Pakistan-born part-time Uber driver and wannabe standup star, who falls in love with Emily, a young American grad student.
But the couple quickly have to face Kumail’s family traditions and expectations.
Caught between Pakistani and American identities, between Islam and agnosticism, Kumail is unsure of who he is. But there is one thing he knows for sure: he can’t tell his family about the white woman who’s become so important to him.
“You know what we call arranged marriage in Pakistan, Emily? Marriage.”
This movie gives a tender and original look at cultural differences. Portrayed with vibrant affection and infectious good humour, this couple will make your heart melt, even if they drive one another crazy.
Overall, The Big Sick is a great story about love, life and identity.
You will definitely have a laugh, you might cry sometimes, but more importantly, it will make you think about cross-cultural relationships and what it means to be a 21st-century American.
To learn more, you can watch the trailer here!
3) Brooklyn directed by John Crowley (2015)
Countries : Ireland, Italy & United States
On a more dramatic note, I wanted to suggest this period drama set in the 1950s between Ireland and New York.
It follows the journey of Eilis Lacey (portrayed by the incredible Saoirse Ronan), a bright young woman who feels like there is no meaningful opportunity for her in her small Irish town. She dreams about America and decides to leave with the support of her family.
After a difficult travel to New York, she has to face homesickness and confusion in this brand-new life.
“Homesickness is like most sicknesses, it will pass.”
One evening, she is invited to dance by Tony Fiorello, an Italian living in New York, who wants to help her forget about her native Ireland. She discovers for the first time traditions different to hers, and even has to learn how to eat spaghetti for a dinner with Tony!
More than a movie about cultural differences, Brooklyn is a powerful story of immigration told through the eyes of a strong female lead.
Rich in History, romance and drama, you won’t get bored with this beautiful tale about identity and the feeling of being “home” somewhere in the world.
If you want to get a first glimpse at the movie, watch the trailer here!
4) A United Kingdom directed by Amma Asante (2016)
Countries : United Kingdom & Botswana
In a very different setting, I am now taking you between England and Botswana, in 1947.
This movie depicts the true love story between Seretse Khama, a young Prince of present-day Botswana, and Ruth Williams, a 24-year-old white Londoner.
This incredible couple had to overcome a great deal of hurdles : their cultural differences, their families and the British and South African laws.
“I am ready to serve you because I love my people. I love this land. But I love my wife.”
Yet, Seretse and Ruth have challenged the laws of apartheid and their love shook an Empire.
Even if this film is fairly conventional, its vibrant screenplay will touch your heart while bringing to light an obscure time of History.
Discover the trailer here!
5) Tokyo fiancée directed by Stefan Liberski (2015)
Countries : France & Japan
And to end this journey across intercultural love, let’s go for a trip in Asia!
To be more precise, let’s go to Japan, in Tokyo, where we follow the daily life of Amélie, a young French girl coming back to the city where she grew up.
Amélie is now a French teacher and quickly falls in love with her only student, Rinri. She soon finds herself enjoying a passionate relationship with her Japanese lover.
“There’s no French word for what I felt for Rinri. The Japanese word “koi” came closest.”
As the two explore the joys and awkwardness of their first real romance and the colorful city around them, many cultural barriers fall, but some still remain.
Based on Amélie Nothomb’s bestselling novel, Tokyo Fiancée is a dark romantic comedy that will appeal to fans of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.
It is a captivating and unique movie that addresses, with a playful look, misunderstandings and the problems that arise from cultural stereotypes.
To learn more about this cross-cultural adventure, watch the trailer here!
I hope you enjoyed this first overview of intercultural love stories on screen. You will regularly find my top picks (books, podcasts, movies and more!) on the blog.