Since 1895, when the Lumière brothers first screened the motion pictures they had produced with their new invention, the cinématographe, France has been uniquely positioned in the global film industry. The French language is embedded in the terminology of the movies: from film noir to cinéma vérité, and mise-en-scène to Palme d’Or.

French directors and actors labour in the tradition of Jean Renoir and Jean-Luc Godard, of Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve. It can be a burdensome reputation; there is also plenty of stigma attached to French films. Do they always have to be worthy, moody, quirky, pensive, obscure? Is there no place for the lighthearted caper, the action-packed but easily digestible thriller?..

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