'L'auberge Espagnole' brilliantly mixes culture and diversion

    The American college movie has become a stereotypical staple of our culture. Full of lewd comments, praising a party population and rebelling against sexual conservatism, the college film attempts to embody the unending festivities accompanying higher education. Internationally, however, the scene seems to be a bit different.

    “”L’auberge Espagnole”” is a brilliant international twist to the American perception of college life. Though filled to the brim with alcohol, sex and misadventure, director Cedric Klapisch takes the viewer through the explorations of a naive French economics student, Xavier, as he searches among others for answers to questions of trust, friendship, direction and meaning.

    The title, which translates to “”The Spanish Inn,”” is a French slang term associated with the mix of cultures. The movie epitomizes this multicultural idea when Xavier, played by Romain Duris, finds refuge in the chaos of a Barcelona, Spain, apartment with seven roommates. Each of the roommates is of a different nationality, and all are part of Erasmus, a European collegiate exchange program.

    While going to school, Xavier surrounds himself with entirely different cultures and sub-cultures. For example, the house is run by Wendy, a straight-forward British woman with an affinity for cleanliness and responsibility. Award-winning actress Cecile De France plays Isabelle, a gorgeous Belgian lesbian who transcends ideas of sexuality for Xavier, offering advice about the female sex, love and regret.

    Love and regret become a prevailing theme as Xavier deals with the pain of lost love, losing long-time girlfriend Martine (Audrey Tautou) upon his arrival in Barcelona. Similarly, Xavier bouts with his affection for Anne Sophie (award-winner Judith Godreche), the new wife of a French doctor who helps Xavier establish residence in Spain.

    Amidst the culture-shock and the heartache, Klapisch continually reinforces the prevailing themes of human unity and personal desire.

    “”As I made the movie, I learned, along with Xavier, that following the most unconscious desires and mixed-up impulses is a good way to grow up and experience life with freedom,”” said Klapisch in his statement about the movie.

    This freedom is found aside beautiful cinematography shot in an incredibly dynamic setting. Digital effects that play with time and space help emphasize the chaotic home that ultimately yields Xavier’s new view of his future.

    The movie encompasses the value of new experiences and great friendship; though at times the film seems slow, the end result is well worth the wait. “”L’auberge Espagnole”” is an incredible, motivating piece of cinema.

    L¹auberge Espagnole

    ****

    Starring Audrey Tatou and Roman Duris

    In theaters June 6

    Rated R

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