L’Auberge espagnole

The notion of a chaotic yet mutually supportive European community is viewed as a microcosm in the form of a student apartment that’s shared by a culturally diverse group in Barcelona in Euro Pudding(a clumsy English title for L’Auberge espagnole .Writer-director Cedric Klapisch again uses a story loosely developed out an assortment of characters in a specific environment, which worked for him in his 1996 breakout hit When the Cat’s Away.
The film’s opening literally zips through the exposition, often in fast-motion and split screen. Xavier (Romain Duris), an economics student in his late twenties, is promised a job by a Finance Ministry associate of his father’s if he can master Spanish and get a working knowledge of the country’s economy. Signing up for a European exchange programme–a process cleverly summarised in a witty scene that makes fun of French bureaucracy–he sadly says farewell to his girlfriend Martine (Audrey Tautou), promising to keep investing in the relationship despite the distance. In Barcelona, he moves in with a bunch of fellow students hailing from England, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and Andalusia. As they hang out, study and party, the housemates absorb each other’s influences, forming a noisy, quarrelsome but nurturing surrogate family. This proves stimulating for Xavier but fails to impress uptight Martine, whose visit places a strain on their relationship. Xavier is further confused by his attraction to a lonely married French woman (Judith Godreche), employing techniques acquired from his Belgian lesbian housemate (Cecile De France) to seduce her. At the end of his study year, Xavier returns to Paris and the Ministry position and discovers that his priorities have changed.
France-Spain, 2002. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 115 mins.

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