You know that feeling when you just can’t stop scrolling on Netflix for something new to watch? Don’t worry, we all feel your pain. The ‘Netflix-block’ is real, especially in quarantine. Luckily for you, there is a slew of foreign shows and movies with enriching plots, cultural nuances and diverse perspectives available on Netflix. Incorporating foreign media into your Netflix repertoire is an incredible way to familiarize yourself with different languages, cultures and experiences that are not your own. So, when you’re feeling that infamous ‘Netflix-block,’ just know VALLEY has got you covered with the best international T.V. and films out there. Check ‘em out!
Reply 1988 (South Korea)
This South Korean television series is set in the year 1988 and follows five childhood friends and their families who’ve lived in the same neighborhood their whole life. Each of the five friends has distinct personalities that seem to clash and work harmoniously together all at once. Fall in love with their heartwarming stories and hilarious interactions as you watch them go through everything life throws at them together.
“Money Heist” (Spain)
If you haven’t already hopped on the bandwagon, you are missing out. This Spanish thriller follows an organized crime group headed by a criminal mastermind who simply goes by ‘The Professor’. Their plan is to pull off the biggest heist in recorded history to print billions of euros at the Royal Mint of Spain. The group of eight takes hostages to help in their negotiations with the police. Everything seems to go according to plan…until it doesn’t.
“La Mante” (France)
Decades after she was captured, the Paris police commissioner recruits imprisoned serial killer Jeanne Deber to help solve a series of unsolved copycat murders. Known as ‘La Mante’ or ‘The Mantis,’ Jeane agrees to help only if her estranged detective son works alongside her. As time goes on, the French drama only escalates as the copycat killer’s number of victims begins to rise. We promise you will be anxiously watching each episode of this incredible French thriller.
“Meteor Garden” (China)
Now we’ve got to be honest, the original Meteor Garden from 2001 is infinitely better, but this one isn’t bad. The 2018 Netflix version follows the same plotline as the original. The show revolves around the ups and downs of five university students: the girl, Shan Cai, and F4 (a group of four popular troublemaker boys). If you’re looking for a lighthearted love story with a twinge of drama, Meteor Garden is for you. You can access the original English subtitled version on Youtube for free. Click here for episode 1.
This new Netflix miniseries is one of the first shows to be primarily in Yiddish and follows a 19-year old Jewish woman named Esty who runs away from her arranged marriage and extreme Orthodox community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in New York. She escapes to Berlin where her estranged mother lives to try and establish a new life for herself. However, her past soon catches up to her where she has to determine how to handle her worlds colliding.
“Suburra: Blood On Rome” (Italy)
This Italian drama is based off a real-life political scandal that features a fight over development land in a coastal town near Rome. The church, political figures, members of organized crime, local gangs and real estate developers all collide in the battle as they try and deal with legal and personal issues. In a fight for power, the show is almost like a real-life “Game of Thrones”.
“A Very Secret Service” (France)
The French comedy series is set in 1960 at the height of the Cold War. The French intelligence service hires 23-year-old André Merlaux who is handsome, well-mannered, and most of all, intelligent. He makes a distinct impression on the other members of the French intelligence service, but he needs training. Merlaux must execute delicate and sometimes outlandish operations for the intelligence service, all with a hilarious comedic twist.
“Cable Girls” (Spain)
Four young women get jobs at Spain’s first national telephone company in 1920s Madrid. For the four women, their jobs are more than just work — they represent a sense of female empowerment and progress as they start to gain more equality with their male counterparts. Known as the ‘cable girls,’ the women find more in common than they think as they share their stories of their families, partners, and experiences.
Inspired by the 1995 French black and white drama “La Haine,” “Divines” is a modern, female-centric take on the disparities between the socioeconomic class divide in France. Set in ‘les banlieues’ or ‘the projects’ of Paris, a teenager and her best friend find themselves involved with a drug runner in an attempt to gain power and success. When the protagonist, Dounia, finds herself falling in love with a dancer, she begins to doubt her choices. This film is truly heartbreaking in the most emotional and intense way possible, and it is an absolute must see.
Set in all black and white, this Academy Award-winning film blew away critics and audiences all over the world. Cleo, one of the domestic workers, works for a couple, Antonio and Sofia, by taking care of their four children in 1970s Mexico City. When Antonio leaves his family for his mistress and Cleo finds out that she’s pregnant, complications soon arise. The film follows the bond Cleo begins to make with the family she takes care of when they escape for a vacation.
“Blue Is The Warmest Color” (France)
Protagonist of this renowned cult film, Adèle is a French teenager dealing with typical teenage issues of her own freedom, emotions, and suddenly, her sexuality. When she meets an aspiring female painter Emma, her life and her idea of love are changed and shaped by her newfound relationship. The film follows their relationship from Adèle’s high school years to her early adult life and career as a school teacher. When the film was first shot, it caused widespread controversy, but the movie highlights the important and humanizing reality of sexuality through its raw storyline of young love.
“Train to Busan” (South Korea)
If you like horrors and you like thrillers, this is the movie for you. The Korean film will give you a constant and exciting adrenaline rush the entire time. Mostly set on a train headed for the city of Busan, a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out in the country and threatens the passengers’ lives. The passengers must fight for their lives and their loved-ones while they are trapped in a speeding train. This Korean film takes a zombie apocalypse and makes it art.
“The Pianist” (Poland, France, Germany, UK)
Made as a co-production of France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Poland, this heartbreaking film is based on the autobiographical book “The Pianist.” Władysław Szpilman, a Polish-Jewish pianist and composer, watches as Warsaw, Poland gradually falls under the deadly grasp of Nazi Germany during World War II. Szpilman is soon forced into the Warsaw Ghetto and loses track of his loved ones during the war. This story is about Szpilman’s journey hiding in various locations among the ruins of his city.
“I Am Not An Easy Man” (France)
Looking for a fun girls-night movie? This French romantic that comedy crafts a hilarious spin on the typical love story is just for you. Damien was once a typical womanizer and chauvinist who soon finds himself in a world where the roles are reversed. In a new matriarchal society, Damien falls in love with Alexandra, but it gets complicated. He tries to decipher the new codes of life in this new world while falling for Alexandra. This movie will be sure to put a smile on your face and keep you laughing.
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (China)
A Chinese classic, this film features an international cast of Chinese actors and actresses with strong global presence and success. A young woman in ancient China longs for an adventurous life rather than a boring, arranged marriage. She soon steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man. This iconic movie will fulfill all of your “Princess Bride” needs with a martial arts twist and more.
“My Life As A Zucchini” (France)
If you’re looking for a change of pace from the typical live-action movies, this French stop-motion comedy-drama is where it’s at. It’s beautifully created with an important and heartful message. Courgette is a young boy with a tough life. After losing his mother, he’s sent to a foster home with other orphans his age where he learns the value and importance of trust and true love. Throughout the film, we see Courgette’s progression as he finds love and friendship in unsuspecting people and places.
Have a favorite foreign flick that we didn’t mention? Tweet us at @VALLEYmag and let us know!