April 29, 2004

l'auberge espagnole

international posterThis movie opens with Xavier, a French college student, visiting a large corporation's maze-like offices to seek the advice of a family friend on how to complete his schooling to best position himself to attain a similar job after graduation. The advice he receives leads him to apply to an international exchange program called Erasmus. He is eventually accepted into the program and leaves France to spend a term (or a year, it's not clear) at a Spanish university. The movie from here is predominantly about Xavier's adventures in housing, culminating in his moving in with a wildly international group all sharing an apartment.

The movie is a wonderful portrayal of how a college experience can be almost utopian with shared adversity and purpose forging intense bonds of friendship. The residents of the apartment represent different countries of the European Union in microcosm, with all of them dashing the stereotypes about their nations of origin. They struggle to communicate through the imperfect overlap of their various languages. The plot is comfortably mundane. People fall in love and out of it. People argue about who is supposed to clean the bathroom.

US posterThe actors are all lovely to look at, as are the shots of Barcelona, but even setting the eye-candy aspects aside, the movie is still a kick to watch for its snappy dialogue, endearing characters, and interesting (if uneven) shooting style.

The movie poster up at the beginning of this review gives an accurate impression of the film as an ensemble cast piece. That's not the picture that was on the cover of the DVD we got from the library, though. The one we (and I have to assume most US audiences) got has Audrey Tautou front and center capitalizing on her recognizability following Amélie. Never mind the fact that Tautou's role as Xavier's girlfriend is a fairly minor one. That's the cover we saw at right.

Posted by jeffy at April 29, 2004 08:01 PM
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