How to Impress an MML Student Without Really Trying

SOPHIE WILLIAMS tells you how to blag your way into the heart of an MML-student by watching films.

Cinema Film foreign films French german mml Spanish

Flirting is hard. Very hard. And being at Cambridge makes it harder. People here are so passionate about their subjects that it can be difficult to get on with (or get on) someone properly if you don’t know anything about what they’re studying. But I’m here to help. Each week I will post a guide detailing the means of blagging your way into the heart of someone who studies a subject you know nothing about. Imagine the scene: you’re introducing yourself to a new, attractive person in the standard “Name/College/Subject” manner, and the conversation goes like this:

“Hi, I’m Simon, I’m from John’s and I study Arabic.”

“Arabic? Wow, like… the Middle East?”


“Wow … … … it’s tense out there, isn’t it?”

“Which part?”

“All of it?”


“…I know nothing else about the Middle East, sorry.”

“We can never have sex, sorry.”

“OK bye have a nice life.”

“Bye OK.”

Never again will I have – I mean, you have – this problem. Just read my handy dandy guides to pretending you know stuff about stuff you know nothing about. Who has time to read books? No one. Who has time to watch films in order to impress someone they barely know? Desperate people. So that means some of you.

MML: a beginner’s guide

Most normal MML-ers study either/or French, German or Spanish, so here’s my guide to seducing those kinds of people. (I can’t really help you if you’ve fallen for a neo-Latinist, sorry.) Be cultural, be sexy. C’est tres chic./Que es muy chic./Es ist sehr schick.


Note how everyone is called ‘Jean’. Très French.

‘I don’t need your help,’ I hear you say, ‘I’ve seen Amélie.’ Blah blah boring. Everyone has seen Amélie. You’re not special. Move on from your Amélies and your Chocolats onto the French New Wave, a.k.a the most pretentious film movement ever, a.k.a. the film movement I loved when I was a 16-year-old Marxist. Start with The 400 Blows or Breathless to get you into the swing of things. You’ll start seeing the world in monochrome. Be warned, though: any girl who watches Breathless will immediately want to cut their hair short like Jean Seberg and every bloke will wish he was as ugly-sexy as Jean-Paul Belmondo. Oh and since everyone seems to love Blue is the Warmest Colour at the moment, watch that.


El spirito de la beehivo

Never try to impress a Spanishist with your impression of Zorro or his animated alter-ego Puss in Boots from Shrek 2 and the film Puss in Boots. Instead, flex your cultural muscle by showing your knowledge of everyone’s favourite Spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar. He has been responsible for 99% of almost all famous Spanish films of the last few years: Bad Education, Volver, I’m so Excited. Go a bit more niche with The Spirit of the Beehive, a slow-moving classic of Spanish cinema that has a cute kid in it. Another way to impress a Spanishist is to say how Abre los ojos is so much superior to the American remake, Vanilla Sky. You don’t even have to watch the latter film to know it’s inferior because it has Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in it, whereas the Spanish original does not.


Surely Germany only makes films about the war? I hear you say. Pfft, I say. Only sometimes. Goodbye Lenin! is perhaps the most well-known German film of recent years, and for good reason. It’s about the fall of the Berlin Wall (so not quite WWII) and most importantly features Teutonic dreamboat Daniel Brühl who you may have recently seen in Rush, The Fifth Estate or, unfortunately, Inglourious Basterds. Get a bit more auteury/dazzlingly impressive by mentioning Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the master of the West German cinema. Predictably German WWII films must get a mention: Das Boot is incredible but so long at 4.5 hours that you will forget everything about it immediately afterwards and The Tin Drum is such a gross film that the fact that it’s set during the war becomes relatively unimportant. When I say ‘gross’, I mean ‘great’. But also ‘gross.’

Daniel Brühl is in the gem ‘Inglourious Bastards’

In general, be warned: all MML-ers go on a year abroad for their third year so if you do manage to woo one, prepare yourself for the fact that they will soon go away for a year. Alternatively just catch a MML-er when they’ve come back off their year abroad – they will have no friends left in Cambridge because everyone they knew from first year will have graduated after their first three years, so get them then during the depths of their fourth-year loneliness. Happy wooing!