Screened as part of NZIFF 2003
Student life in a cramped, multilingual Barcelona flat is portrayed with a loose, anecdotal flair in this new comedy by Cédric Klapsich, who evoked a Paris neighbourhood with comparable agility in When the Cat’s Away. Xavier, in his mid-20s, is spending a year in Spain studying economics and improving his Spanish to equip himself for a corporate future in the new Europe. You know as soon as you meet his ostensibly unattached flatmates – an English rose, a Danish stud, an Italian wacko, a German swot, a stroppy Belgian and a Spanish beauty – that his European experience will be character building in ways that he won’t be listing on his CV.
The comedy of national stereotypes is lively and deft – New Zealand audiences may be especially entertained by the characterisation of the Brits – and the film brims with instant nostalgia for the freedom, friendships and sexual chicanery of a 26th year profitably misspent.
“L’auberge espagnole is vignettish and offhand, but it’s extremely pleasant, and it suggests what can be done with lightweight equipment and a loose-limbed approach to the right subject… The characters, searching for romance and good times, wander through Barcelona’s raffishly glamorous ochre streets, across the Gaudí pavilions, the sun-drenched piazzas; the movie is as much a love letter to the erotic pleasures of Barcelona as the New Wave films were to the endless social and intellectual enchantments of Paris.” — David Denby, New Yorker