Recommendations: series and movies

Movies and music are always good resources to learn a foreign language. But some of them use a formal language you will never hear in a colloquial conversation. Therefore I would like to suggest a few media which feature everyday, colloquial French.

Here are a few TV series I like:

  • Bref: this is a series with very short episodes that became very popular in 2012. The narrator speaks very quickly, but it is a good representation of the modern life of young Parisians.
  • Caméra Café: a series with 3-minute episodes about office life. The humor is not very subtle, but the show was quite popular and was adapted in many countries.
  • Kaamelott: it also features 3-minute episodes (in the first seasons). It is a version of the Arthurian legend where most knights of the Round Table are incompetent idiots. Some of the first episodes are not really funny, but the later seasons are hilarious. You probably need quite a high level of French in order to understand it well, though, because there is a lot of slang (I even learned some expressions myself).
  • South Park: seriously. I usually watch movies and series in their original language, but in my opinion the French dub of South Park is extremely good and the guy who does Cartman’s voice is a genius. You’ll learn a lot of profanities, so be careful.

I also recommend watching French YouTubers. Some of them are quite funny, and they speak in the language most young French people actually speak in daily life. The most popular are Norman and Cyprien.

As you may have noticed, I like humorous series and movies. It seems to me that humorists often use colloquial language (not always, though: Pierre Desproges  expressed himself in a very literary French), so I recommend to watch stand-up comedy or any recent comedy film.

Bide

Le bide is a colloquial synonym of ventre, “belly”.

J’ai failli me prendre un coup de couteau dans le bide !
I almost got stabbed in the belly!

Je me suis mis au sport pour perdre mon gros bide.
I began working out to lose my fat belly.

Un bide is also something completely unrelated: a failure, a fiasco. It is usually applied to shows or movies. Bide is the perfect word to describe the embarrassing situation when you tell a joke and nobody laughs.

Son dernier album a été un bide complet.
His last album was a total fiasco.

Listen to the examples:

Beauf

Un beauf was originally a shortened form of beau-frère (“brother-in-law”), but it acquired a new meaning, similar to the American “redneck”.

Wikipedia defines it better than I could: a beauf is “a man perceived as vulgar, unintelligent, arrogant, uncaring, misogynist and chauvinistic, without any taste for etiquette or good manners.” I would add “close-minded” and “uneducated” to the list, but he is mostly harmless and well-meaning. He usually lives in a small town or in the countryside and his interests probably include football, car tuning, Johnny Hallyday and drinking pastis.

The perfect beauf is a caricature and does not exist. Different people have various ideas of a stereotypical beauf, and few people would call themselves beaufs.

Y a que les beaufs qui regardent les émissions de télé-réalité.
Only beaufs watch reality shows.

Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, c’est un film pour beauf.
Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis is a beauf movie.

(I actually found this movie entertaining, but many people called it a movie for beaufs.)

Here are some movies you could watch to have a better understanding of the concept:

  • Les Bronzés (Patrice Leconte, 1978): it is a comedy satirizing the life at holiday resorts which became a cult film in France.
  • Camping (Fabien Onteniente, 2006): definitely not a masterpiece of the French cinema, but it is still a good illustration of the beauf concept.
  • Espace Détente (Bruno Solo and Yvan Le Bolloc’h, 2005): a movie based on the TV series Caméra Café. Some of the characters are complete beaufs.
  • Any movie with Franck Dubosc (that includes Camping and other movies I have not seen, such as Disco and Bienvenue à bord).
Franck Dubosc, an actor who often portrays beaufs. (Wikimedia Commons)
Franck Dubosc, an actor who often portrays beaufs. (Wikimedia Commons)

Listen to the examples: