The most curious remakes are often the English language remakes of foreign films. We all know why they happen - most movie goers just won’t watch a subtitled film - but in a world where original content is increasingly riskier, repurposing popular foreign content for Americans is a viable means of sharing new stories with a wide audience. Just look at this year’s The Upside, which is the big sleeper hit so far this year.
These remakes aren’t just curiosities because the subtitles are gone. They give us a peak into the basic narrative and filmmaking elements that make movies work in this country. So, when the same filmmaker's the person who takes the original material and refashions it for people in the States, it's even more fascinating. Not only are these remakes giving us the opportunity to have a successful filmmaker cross over into the US market, they also allow us to see what they think of the American moviegoing public.
We’ve already had to examples in 2019 of foreign filmmakers remaking their movie in English – Hans Petter Moland’s took his In Order of Disappearance and remade it for the US as Cold Pursuit, and now Sebastián Lelio - who had already broken through the US market with his outstanding film Disobedience - has remade the film that amazed audiences at the 2013 Berlinale: Gloria.
After seeing Gloria Bell, I was basically in a daze for several hours as the film is almost identical to the original (except the songs are different!). It took me a while to wrap my head around the new version, but I came to terms with it the same way one comes to see different version of Hamlet: we have two terrific takes on the same character with two terrific actresses. Both are worth treasuring.
In the video below, I've collected some thoughts on other English language remakes from their foreign director of origin. Very few worked either critically or financially, but they all give us that keen insight into how the world looks at us, as a film audience. Enjoy.