L'Auberge Espagnole (2002)

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Director: Cédric Klapisch
Cast: Romain Duris, Judith Godrèche, Audrey Tautou, Cécile de France

Synopsis

A young Frenchman spends a year in Barcelona as an Erasmus student to acquire the language skills and technical knowledge likely to secure him a job in the Spanish end of the world of business and finance. However, after a year spent learning many of life's lessons he decides to fulfil his childhood ambition to be a writer after all.

The Review

Inordinately long and aimless catalogue of colourful incident, whether comic, erotic, political or simply rites of passage drama. Much of it works in isolation; performances are nicely judged, providing funny or poignant moments, but the national stereotyping is at odds with the presumed motive of promoting European harmony through difference (at its best in a discussion of the pros and cons of lectures being delivered in Catalan) and at times the humour just seems arch and embarrassing. Two pluses, though: it does, in its early stages particularly, evoke the mixture of anticipation and apprehension any young adult feels on embarking on such a journey, and dares to present the un-macho spectacle of its hero sobbing as he leaves his mum and girlfriend at the airport. The title refers to the idea of taking somewhere as you find it and expecting to be surprised, challenged; it is also the title of the hero's book.