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L’auberge espagnole

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L'auberge espagnole [official, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes], apparently was one of the big French films of this (or last?) year. And it is a must-see for everyone who's been abroad – if only to get that fuzzy feeling again.

Multilingual phone answers Xavier, the main character from Paris goes for an Erasmus year to Barcelona. Not knowing too much of the language and country at the beginning, he finds an internationally mixed flat – complete with the relaxed Danish, the serious German, the chaotic Italian, the irresitably rolling-r Spanish and both the caring and the rowdy English. Thus all stereotypes are nicely in place but not in a too bad way. All these people experience that year together, mixing all their national influences. And that's about it.

Likes: The whole setup is, of course, brilliant. Showing that going abroad is a great thing and there are so many other people and regional quirks to get to know – and like. Showing that after consuming sufficient amounts of substances, all the differences won't matter too much. Showing the red-tape that you may have to fight against occasionally. Showing that it's hard to arrive but even harder to leave. Showing Barcelona, which I haven't been to but which looks very nice.

Another very good thing is the way the film is dubbed. Xavier's German voice actually has a French accent – as all the characters in the film talk varying languages in their respective accents. The constant code-switching when talking to other foreigners (i.e. non-Spanish people in this case) is fun to see as well. As is the eternal question 'How to I talk to my froggy's granny on the phone?'. [Let me add here, that my French flatmate and me settled for using those words in a friendly way – so this isn't meant to be offensive.]

Dislikes: Xavier isn't the strongest character I've seen in films by far. He seems very distant and the things experiences and feels don't seem in-character. Also the things happening are perhaps a bit too exhilarating and focus too much around that couple he meets at the airport right at the beginning.

A good, but not brilliant, film. Still a must-see for everone who has gone or plans to be going abroad.

And let me assure you that even going to the dire place that is Coventry was a good experience – although it's not quite as cool as Barcelona. I want to go...

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

November 18, 2003, 0:00

Tagged as auberge espagnole, country:es, country:fr, erasmus, europe, film.

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