12 international movies to watch on Netflix in 2021

For movie buffs who love movies from all over the world, Netflix’s international movie library might just meet your viewing needs. From Japanese titles to Mexican titles, we’ve rounded up some of the best non-English movies you can watch on the streaming platform below. Our choices include recent versions such as Roll or die, the psychological thriller movie directed by Ryuichi Hiroki starring Kiko Mizuhara, as well as Night in paradise, a Korean detective story premiered at the 2020 Venice Film Festival. Our selection also highlights must-see films from Europe, such as I lost my body and The platform, as well as titles from Taiwan and Senegal.

Scroll down to check out some of the best non-English movies you can watch on Netflix right now.

While you’re at it, here’s a list of our favorite sci-fi drama series.

A sun (2019)

Region: Taiwan
Kind: Drama
To throw: Wu Chien-ho, Chen Yi-wen, Samantha Ko

A sun tells the story of two brothers who meet the expectations of society. A-Ho (Chen Yi-wen), the younger brother, is sentenced to juvenile detention while his older brother A-Hao (Greg Hsu) studies at medical school.

Atlantic (2019)

Region: Senegal
Kind: Romance, drama
To throw: Mame Bineta Sané, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré

Located in Dakar, Atlantic begins with a futuristic tower that is about to open its doors to the public. Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré), along with his fellow construction workers who have not been paid for months, mysteriously disappear and return, threatening to burn the building down.

Burning (2018)

Region: South Korea
Kind: Psychological thriller, mystery
To throw: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo

Based on “Barn Burning” by Haruki Murakami from The elephant disappears, this psychological thriller follows Jongsu (Yoo Ah-in), a delivery boy who meets his childhood friend and crushes Haemi (Jeon Jong-seo). The two characters meet a wealthy man named Bed (Steven Yeun), who leads them into a series of mysterious and suspicious events.

Contratiempo (2016)

Region: Spain
Kind: Crime, thriller
To throw: Mario Casas, Ana Wagener, José Coronado, Bárbara Lennie

Also known as The invisible guest, this Spanish film will keep you going. A young businessman, Adrián Doria (Mario Casas) finds himself in a locked hotel room with the corpse of his lover Laura Vidal (Bárbara Lennie). Accused of the murder, he meets with lawyer Virginia Goodman (Blanca Martinez) to develop a defense plan in just three hours.

Divine (2016)

Region: France
Kind: Drama
To throw: Déborah Lukumuena, Jisca Kalvanda, Kévin Mischel

Dounia (Oulaya Amamra), a teenage girl living in the Parisian suburbs, is about to become a drug trafficker to escape poverty by working for her friend Rebecca (Jisca Kalvanda). During her journey, she meets the dancer Djigui (Kévin Mischel), who leads her to live a different life.

First they killed my father (2017)

Region: Cambodia
Kind: Historical Thriller
To throw: Sreymoch Sareum, Kompheak Phoeung, Socheata Sveng

Directed by Angelina Jolie, First they killed my father is a screen adaptation of the 2000 non-fiction book of the same title. The film tells the story of seven-year-old Loung (Sreymoch Sareum), who is forced to fight as a child soldier under the Khmer Rouge regime.

I lost my body (2019)

Region: France
Kind: Animation
To throw: Hakim Faris, Victoire Du Bois, Patrick d’Assumçao

This animated film, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 92nd Academy Awards, shows the story of a severed hand as she embarks on a journey to find her body, belonging to a man named Naoufel. The Hand takes a trip down memory lane, remembering his life as a budding pianist, pizza delivery boy and more.

Night in paradise (2021)

Region: South Korea
Kind: Crime drama
To throw: Um Tae-goo, Jeon Yeo-been, Cha Seung-won

After its premiere at the 77th Venice International Film Festival, Night in paradise has finally landed on Netflix. The story of this crime drama is told from the perspective of an assassin named Tae-goo (Um Tae-goo), whose family is murdered after rejecting an offer to join his rival gang. He seeks revenge by killing the leader of the group and fleeing to Jeju Island, where he meets Jae-yeon (Jeon Yeo-been).

The platform (2019)

Region: Spain
Kind: Social sci-fi, horror
To throw: Iván Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale Coka

The platform depicts the story of residents living in a prison with a vertical system where inmates receive leftover food from the upper floor via the “Platform”. Dark Allegory explores the issues that arise through this structure that allows those at the top of the building to eat as much as they want.

Roll or die (2021)

Region: Japan
Kind: Romance
To throw: Kiko Mizuhara, Honami Sato, Yoko Maki

Rei (Kiko Mizuhara), who is in love with her former classmate Nanae (Honami Sato), learns that she is in an abusive relationship with her husband. The character proceeds to murder her, later earning Nanae’s love.

Rome (2018)

Region: Mexico
Kind: Drama
To throw: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira

Rome is a hit title that received 10 91st Oscar nominations and the first Mexican entry to win the award for best foreign language film. The film focuses on Cleo (Yalitza Apricio), a domestic worker in a middle-class household in 1970s Mexico. Conflicts arise when Cleo finds out that she is pregnant and her employer Sofía (Marina de Tavira) leaves her husband Antonio (Fernando Grediaga).

Us and them (2018)

Region: China
Kind: Romance
To throw: Jing Boran, Zhou Dongyu, Tian Zhuangzhuang

This Chinese film tells the bittersweet story of two strangers who meet on a train and fall in love with each other. Jumping between the past and the present, the film portrays the harsh realities that then separated the couple. The two reunite 10 years later and reflect on their long-standing relationship.


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Darcy J. Skinner

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