L’Auberge Espagnole

A fun, irresistibly charming and very genuinely felt story of Xavier, a 25-year-old Parisian “lost soul” who travels to Barcelona on a cultural exchange program and ends up finding himself. It’s not as cheesy or predictable as it sounds: The movie has an unexpectedly Truffaut-esque soul as it celebrates how the very beauty of life lies in its confusing and contradictory charms. After a bumpy start, Xavier finds an apartment to share with a bunch of colorful, rackety and linguistically mismatched Europeans, all of whom are in Barcelona on the same pan-European exchange program. As he squabbles with his girlfriend back home, the lovesick Xavier can’t help himself, and, he falls for an uptight Parisian neurologist’s curvy, delicately shy, deliciously sexy wife. When Xavier’s girlfriend breaks up with him, he goes into a tailspin, and his roommates rally around him. Meantime, they try to put one of the roommates’ loudmouth, abrasive younger brother in his place, have as much fun as they can handle and get drunk on life. The movie earns all its raffish charms and good humor through its honesty, and every relationship in L’Auberge feels real and true. We can all relate to the vibrant energy of youth and to all its endless and glorious possibilities, and the movie beautifully brings that across as it conveys its poignant moral that finding one’s identity isn’t as important as enjoying and reveling in the search itself. The joys to be had in diving into that multi-cultural melting pot–that ideal of a truly European Union, one which transcends not just economic but cultural and linguistic barriers as well–is at the heart of these characters’ zesty struggles (and the movie’s message). The performances are surprisingly winning, warm and natural. The direction is assured, with Klapisch finding the perfect middle ground between the heartwarming coming-of-age comedy and the edgier, character-driven “art film.”

Grade: B+

Directed by: Cédric Klapisch
Written by: Cédric Klapisch
Cast: Romain Duris, Judith Godrèche, Audrey Tautou, Cécile De France, Kelly Reilly

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