If you’re missing Italy, dreaming of visiting or want to learn more about the culture while practicing your language skills, then this post is for you. While the best way to learn a language is to go to the source and immerse in local culture, that’s not always possible. That’s where the selection of Italian movies on Netflix comes in as the next best thing.
These days, watching foreign movies is a breeze. Streaming services make it super convenient, and there is quite a selection to choose from. They are especially great for those wanting to immerse themselves in other cultures without having to leave home.
Depending on where you live, the selection of Italian movies on Netflix will vary. What is available to me might not be an option for you or the other way around. This list will get you started and hopefully will encourage you to search for others.
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Why watch Italian movies?
By watching Italian movies, you can hear different native speakers having real conversations beyond the basics found in many language learning apps. Depending on your learning style, it might be easier to follow the dialogue in a movie than repeating the robotic phrases used in lessons.
Italian movies are also a great way to see Italy from a local angle. Characters in movies often show us how the locals live, what they do (no matter how mundane), and the places they go to that aren’t on tourist itineraries. It’s almost as good as being there on location.
Foreign movies allow us to gain cultural insights that reflect values and perspectives that might differ from where we live. As Italians love drama, many of the movies and shows are filled with it as well. Watching Italian movies on Netflix or other platforms is definitely a good way to get invested in the characters’ storylines. That way, you’ll have something to chat about with the locals.
Interested in Italian movies? You might like Movies set in Italy!
Italian movies on Netflix
5 Star Christmas/Natale a cinque stelle (2018)
Plot: Mixing politics with allegiances and scandals, the movie is more reminiscent of a Shakespearean play that has little to do with Christmas. It follows the Italian prime minister Franco Rispoli (Massimo Ghini) as he arrives in Budapest to strengthen relationships with Hungary.
Rispoli is under pressure from his party members and faces dwindling polls back home. However, the trip is not just a part of his political campaign – it’s also an opportunity to cover up an affair with his opposition rival Giulia (Martina Stella). As the two arrive at the hotel, they discover a dead body dressed as Santa Claus. Trying to avoid a scandal, the two embark on a series of comedic mishaps that make the situation even worse.
Plot: The movie is a story of two brothers – Matteo (Riccardo Scamarcio), a successful entrepreneur with a charmed life and Ettore (Valerio Mastandrea), a cautious teacher who still lives in the town they both grew up in. While Matteo lives up his gay playboy life in Rome, his brother deals with a painful divorce and is dying from a brain tumour.
The difficult situation offers the brothers an opportunity to get reacquainted. As one deals with the prognosis and the other with the determination to stop it, they discover the links that bring them together. If you love tearjerker, this one is for you.
Forgive Us Our Debts/Rimetti a noi i nostri debiti (2018)
Plot: Things go from bad to worse for Guido (Claudio Santamaria) when he loses his job. Drowning in debt and creditors on his back, he makes a decision that will change his life. He agrees to work for the creditors until his debts are paid. Guido discovers that he’s good at his job threatening, harassing and stalking debtors.
Eventually, he faces a moral and ethical dilemma after witnessing a suicide of a debtor and having to pay a visit to one of his own friends who once helped him out. As Guido re-examines his choices, he must decide whether to keep the job and be the person he never expected to be or to walk away.
Rose Island/L’Isola delle Rose (2020)
Plot: An idealistic engineer Giorgio Rosa (Elio Germano), decides to build an island 12 km off the coast of Rimini with the help of his friend Maurizio (Leonardo Lidi). He declares the island, built on a platform outside the territorial waters, as an independent nation. Soon after, the island attracts tourists and other curious visitors, which doesn’t go over well with the Italian government.
The movie is based on a real story of a man who builds his own micro-nation in 1968 as a symbol of freedom. The island, built just beyond Italian territorial waters, had its own rules, language and currency. Eventually, it was declared as an enemy of the state by Italian authorities. I bet you didn’t know that!
Plot: Sam (Ludovico Tersigni) is your regular teenager obsessed with skateboarding and dreaming of travelling to California. Everything changes when he meets Alice (Barbara Ramella). The two fall in love, but when Alice finds out she’s pregnant, Sam is forced to evaluate his dreams and choices.
Having been raised by a single mother, Sam is no stranger to what it’s like to have an absentee father. He must decide whether he wants to repeat the mistakes of his own father or face fatherhood hands-on. As he imagines his future as a parent, he finds a surprising mentor while reading about his idol, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk.
The App (2019)
Plot: Nick (Salvatore Costa) seems to have it all – financial security, a wonderful girlfriend and a role in a debut movie. To help his girlfriend with her dissertation, he uploads a dating app that eventually sends him into a self-destructive spiral.
Nick becomes obsessed with Maria, a mysterious woman on the app that leads him on a foolish and hopeless pursuit. As he starts losing his grasp on reality, he becomes alienated from his real-world well-wishers and accomplishments.
The Life Ahead/La vita davanti a sé (2020)
Plot: A former prostitute and Jewish Holocaust survivor, Madam Rosa (Sophia Loren), offers her home to children of other “working women” in Bari, Italy. Momo is a 12-year old orphaned Senegalese boy who robs her and tries unsuccessfully to sell the items. The two come face to face when Dr. Coen, Rosa’s doctor and Momo’s foster father, brings the boy to her to apologize and return the items.
The doctor offers Rosa money to take the boy in and look after him, to which she reluctantly agrees. After numerous conflicts and resentments, the two form an unlikely friendship as Rosa’s health declines. If you love tear-jerkers, this is a movie for you.
The Players/Gli infedeli (2020)
Plot: The Players is a collection of short skits exploring marriage, fidelity and love. It’s an adaptation of a 2012 French movie of the same name. Each story follows a similar theme – the wife accuses her man of cheating while he vehemently denies it. Funny, ridiculous, stereotypical? You decide.
Under the Riccione Sun/Sotto il sole di Riccione (2020)
Plot: This coming-of-age story follows a group of young adults in the beach town of Riccione, Italy. As they arrive for the annual vacation, they all discover something about each other and the others. This lighthearted movie looks at young love, despair and second chances during what will become a memorable summer.
If you’re missing sun-drenched beach life, going out to socialize and meeting new friends, this movie is a great escape from reality.
Welcome Mr. President/Benvenuto Presidente! (2013)
Plot: Giuseppe Garibaldi (Claudio Bisio) is a simple librarian living in a sleepy Lombardy village, known to his friends as Peppino. He also happens to share a name with the famous Italian general and unification hero. One day, due to a political error and a mix-up, he is mistakenly elected President of the Italian Republic, a job he has no experience or training for.
Like a fish out of water, Peppino is thrust into the spotlight and the world of politics. While his commons sense and effectiveness are winning the country, there are many who would like to see him fall. Ah, the beauty of elected politicians.
Tips for watching Italian movies on Netflix
When it comes to Italian movies on Netflix or any other platform, there will be many good ones and quite a few not-so-good ones. You can still get a lot of the language, even if the script or acting is not your usual cup of proverbial tea.
Depending on your grasp of Italian, you might want to jump straight to watching the movie in Italian without subtitles. I prefer to watch them with original audio and English subtitles. This allows me to follow the conversation and recognize words/phrases that I might not have thought about before. It also forces me to look at the screen, so I’m less likely to browse stuff on my phone and actually pay attention.
Subtitles are also great when the characters use slang or sayings that are part of their vernacular and not necessarily found in learning apps. If you’re someone who hates repeating basic words and conjugating random verbs, movies offer an interesting alternative to learning.
Enjoying Italian movies on Netflix? You might like Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy: Naples
The downside to watching Italian movies is that sometimes the conversations might be too difficult for beginners to follow. Even harder is when characters use regional dialects or slang that, unless you’re a native speaker, you’re not going to understand, hence why subtitles are a great option.
So, what are some of your fave Italian movies that have helped you with your Italian? Let us know.