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As part of a job that he is promised, Xavier, an economics student in his twenties, signs on to a European exchange program in order to gain working knowledge of the Spanish language. Promising that they'll remain close, he says farewell to his loving girlfriend, then heads to Barcelona. Following his arrival, Xavier is soon thrust into a cultural melting pot when he moves into an apartment full of international students. An Italian, an English girl, a boy from Denmark, a young girl from Belgium, a German and a girl from Tarragona all join him in a series of adventures that serve as an initiation to life. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
In the English subtitles, several sections are purposefully translated incorrectly to preserve the humorous nature of the film. The list of strange names around Paris is changed to "Honolulu, Punxsutawney, Piccadilly, Massachusetts, Saskatoon and Machu Picchu;" and during the scene in which Wendy mispronounces "Xavier n'est pas ici..." the English subtitles say "Xavier eez not here..." See more »
When Xavier is at the airport getting ready to leave for Barcelona, he goes to talk to Martine and then returns to his mother and picks up his small backpack. He then goes back to Martine, without his backpack, returns to his mother and picks up his backpack again. See more »
Why do you always have to smoke joints in *my* room?
Because it's comfortable.
It's the only clean place in the apartment.
[Tobias and Soledad laugh nervously, Wendy looks desperate]
Take it easy, Wendy.
See more »
In the opening credits, each actor is credited along with the flag of the country where their character is from. See more »
I have long been torn between Madrid and Barcelona, the former a dignified repository of old Spanish architecture and customs (a Catholic parade at 11 PM!) and the latter a Ramblas-rambunctious splash of youth and energy (Oh, that Olympic harbor!). Cédric Klapisch's `L'Auberge Espagnole'(`Euro pudding') now tips the scales to Barcelona for me as I watch a group of 20 somethings negotiate life in a communal apartment. They represent the emerging melting pot of Europe, learning each other's language and purging themselves of racism and sexism. The film is alive with change.
Protagonist Xavier (Romain Duris) is moving from Paris (a city against its type here-repressive and decidedly unromantic) to Barcelona for a year in order to qualify for a business job that demands immediate experience in Spain. Leaving his girlfriend (Audrey Tautou) and his hippie mother behind, he witnesses love in forms his shy French persona would have never encountered, including adultery and lesbianism. That he will be different, more urbane and wise, is preordained by the decision to move; that the director wishes us to see the allegory of a polyglot Europe is all too obvious.
But the photography through the narrow streets, even in the barrios, is muscular and lyrical, especially when it takes us all to the top of the Gaudi Cathedral to survey the messy world below (Xavier eventually comments the world is `badly made').
Beyond my affection for Spain, this film reaffirms for me the salutary effect travel has on the uncertain heart. After one year on his own, Xavier is ready to make a serious decision, but not about Paris vs. Barcelona-it's whether the corporate world that started this string of events is the one he wants or the artful one in his heart. Tennyson's Ulysses says, `I cannot rest from travel.' Xavier, on the other hand, found his rest in travel.
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