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THE FAMILY Blu-ray Giveaway: A Quick Guide to French (for the Italian American Gangster)

The Family starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer is now available on Blu-ray. Enter to win a copy at the bottom of this post! 

What happens when a family of Italian American mobsters get relocated to Northern France as a part of a radically ambitious witness protection program? This common conundrum is something that prolific French filmmaker, Luc Besson, tackles head on in his latest feature, The Family, which is available on Blu-ray and DVD on Dec. 17. For fear of untangling too many plot spoilers, we are going to celebrate the release of this feature by coming up with an essential guide to the language of romance. For all you readers out there who are finding the mafia life too much and want to swap your semi-automatic pistol for a freshly made brie and jam baguette, please read on….



Many people consider the French to be a tad rude. But upon moving to France, it will be you who will be receiving the cold shoulder if you don’t introduce standard politeness strategies into your broken French vocabulary. Here are a few key phrases you will need to charm and woo your new countrymen:

1)    On peut se tutoyer? – Unlike in English, the French have different ways of saying the word ‘you’. One you, ‘tu, is used when you know someone well and is relatively informal. The other, ‘vous’, is much more formal and is usually used when speaking to people who don’t know very well. Simply put, ‘On peut se tutoyer?’ means ‘can I refer to you informally’. When you’ve made your first French friend, this might be a useful phrase to use to cement your first relationship!

2)    Je Vous prèsente…/ Je te prèsente… – Loaded with your new identity and your status as a US mobster a distant memory, there will come a point where you are going to have to introduce your family by their new names. It certainly won’t be easy remembering your own new name, let alone all of your family members!  Add to the equation that you are going to have to do this in fluent French and you have a potential disaster on your hands! Don’t panic. If you use this phrase (which literally means- I present to you) before naming each of your loved ones, you will be successfully conning the locals in no time.

3)     Je vous remercie de tout cœur- I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you really want to embrace politeness with the upmost romanticism, this is a great phrase to use (even if it is just a false pretence).

Assert yourself!

Although your history as a mobster kingpin has had to be brushed under the carpet, there is one thing you are never going to be able to change; your Italian passion. Your temper will still be tested in Normandy just like it was in Brooklyn. To avoid throttling your new neighbour over a simple lack of understanding, these phrases will be able to keep calm and let the people around you know who is boss !

1)     Laisse-moi tranquille ! – Leave me alone! There will no doubt come a time when a local drunkard, annoying salesmen or inquisitive child will pester you to utter frustration. To avoid letting your Italian emotion expose itself in a wave of violence, the simple exclamation of ‘Laisse-moi tranquille’ will demonstrate a passive authority.

2)    Ne m’oblige pas à te blesser!- Don’t make me hurt you- Find your self reaching for your hidden weapon ? Back in the big apple, you wouldn’t hesitate in pulling out your pistol, even if your intention was just to threaten. This phrase might just cause enough fear so that you can keep your weapon concealed and your newfound identity intact.

Finally, with the help of these essential French phrases, you should be keeping up appearances with your new neighbours with ease. But if there is one essential phrase that you simply cannot forget as an Italian-American ex-pat, it is how to find a good Italian restaurant! You can take the gangster out of Brooklyn but you can’t take the Brooklyn out of the gangster…

Key French Phrase: ou se trouve la cuisine Italienne? – Where can I find some Italian food around here?


The Family is out on Blu-ray and DVD on Dec. 17!


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