Sunday, April 22, 2018

L'Auberge Espagnole

Written and directed by Cedric Klapisch, L’Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment) is the story of a group of students from various parts of Europe who share an apartment in Barcelona where they deal with romantic entanglements and other things. The first in a trilogy of films revolving around characters in Europe, the film is an exploration of different people living in Barcelona where a young man deals with his surroundings and fascination towards a fellow student. Starring Romain Duris, Judith Godreche, Audrey Tautou, Barnaby Metschurat, Cecile de France, Kelly Reilly, and Kevin Bishop. L’Auberge Espagnole is a witty and riveting film from Cedric Klapisch.

The film revolves around a French graduate student who is asked to study in Barcelona for a year as he would live with six other European grad students in an apartment where he deals with a long-distance relationship, feelings for another woman, and other things during the course of a year. It all plays into this man trying to find himself as he’s studying to work in economics as he takes part in the ERAMUS programme to get the job he wanted but that would require him to live and study in Barcelona for the year. Cedric Klapisch’s screenplay is largely told from the perspective of its protagonist Xavier (Romain Duris) who narrates the film as if he’s telling about his experience where he deals with not just homesickness but also culture shock and uncertainty in Barcelona. Even as he would leave behind a girlfriend in Martine (Audrey Tautou) and his mother where he would meet a French couple in Jean-Charles Perrin (Wladimir Yordanoff) and Anne-Sophie (Judith Godreche) whom he would stay with for a bit until finding a place to live.

Upon discovering an ad for apartment, he would pass an interview by his flatmates who are all different students from different parts of Europe. Among them is Wendy (Kelly Reilly) from Britain, Soledad (Cristina Bondo) from Spain, Tobias (Barnaby Metschurat) from Germany, Alessandro (Federico D’Anna) from Italy, and Lars (Christian Pagh) from Denmark as they’re all different and share the apartment where they later add Xavier’s Belgian classmate Isabelle (Cecile de France) to the apartment when their rent is raised. Despite their cultural differences, Xavier and his flatmates prove to be a unique family in some ways as they help each other find love and deal with other things as it would include Wendy’s immature younger brother William (Kevin Bishop) as well as Xavier’s own infatuation towards Anne-Sophie where he turns to Isabelle for advice as she’s a lesbian. Yet, Xavier’s affection toward Anne-Sophie would be complicated by his own long-distance relationship with Martine that would fall apart as it would lead to all sorts of questions for him.

Klapisch’s direction is definitely stylish in terms of the different film formats that is used as well as the elements of montages that help play into Xavier’s whirlwind year where it would have its ups and downs. Shot on location in Barcelona with some of the film shot in Paris, the film does play into the idea of culture shock from Xavier’s perspective as Barcelona isn’t presented as some tourist paradise with its beaches and architectures. Instead, Klapisch emphasizes on some of the smaller parts of the city as well as the cultural differences it has with other Spaniards which upsets Isabelle who learns that she and a few other students are speaking a different dialect than the people in Barcelona. At the same time, Klapisch would show what Xavier had to do to be part of Barcelona as he would meet a bar waiter named Juan (Javier Coromina) who would teach him how to speak Spanish properly and not to take things so seriously. While Klapisch would use some wide shots of some of the locations including scenes at Park Guell and some shots at the Sagrada Familia.

Much of his direction is intimate in its usage of close-ups and medium shots to play into the interaction between the characters and some of the claustrophobic elements of the apartment where Xavier shares a room with Isabelle. It does play into how close the flatmates are as they also socialize together despite some chaotic moments that would involve William who says stupid things including doing something that offends Tobias. There are elements of humor as it relates to a visit from Wendy’s boyfriend Alistair (Iddo Goldberg) as well as a sequence that is surreal which play into Xavier’s own anxieties about his romantic entanglements. By the time the year ends, Xavier’s experience in Barcelona would change him as Klapisch would showcase this growing sense of confusion but also an uncertainty of the direction of Xavier’s life and what he wanted to do with it as it all play into everything he’s narrating about. Overall, Klapisch crafts an evocative yet rapturous film about a French grad’s student time in Barcelona where he encounters romance and life with six other people from different parts of Europe.

Cinematographer Dominique Colin does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it’s very colorful to display the beauty of some of the locations including the beaches as well as the scenes in the apartment including a blackout with the usage of candles for light. Editor Francine Sandberg does brilliant work with the editing with its stylish usage of montages, super-imposed dissolves, and other stylish cuts to play into the energy of the city as well as some of the comedic moments in the film. Production designer Francois Emmanuelli does fantastic work with the look of the apartment in how small it is with some elements of space as well as how badly organized the refrigerator is.

Costume designers Anne Schotte and Teresa Goicoechea do terrific work with the costumes as it is largely casual to play into the personality of the characters in the film. The sound work of Stephane Brunclair and Cyril Moisson is superb for its natural sound in the way music is played in the background as well as the scenes in and around the streets of Barcelona. The film’s music soundtrack largely consists a mixture of different kinds of music that include contributions from Radiohead, Daft Punk, Frederic Chopin, Sonia & Selena, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Ali Farka Toure, Africando All Stars, and Mala Rodriguez.

The casting by Pep Armengol, Lucy Boulting, and Emmanuelle Gaborit is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Jacno as Xavier’s father in a brief scene, Martine Demaret as Xavier’s mother, Paulina Galvez as a flamenco teacher that Isabelle has feelings for, Pere Abello as the landlord, Pere Sagrista as Xavier and Isabelle’s economics professor, Javier Coromina as the bar waiter Juan who teaches Xavier how to act like a Barcelona regular, Irene Motala as a bartender, Iddo Goldberg as Wendy’s boyfriend Alistair, Olivier Raynal as an American musician named Bruce that Wendy falls for, and Jacques Royer as Erasmus who appears to Xavier in his dreams. Christian Pagh is terrific as the Danish student Lars who tries to ensure that everyone is calm and such while Federico D’Anna is superb as the Italian student Alessandro who always wears a football jersey and is sometimes messy to the annoyance of Wendy. Barnaby Metschurat is awesome as the German student Tobias who is trying to study but also have some fun as he really doesn't like William over a joke that is very offensive to Germans.

Cristina Bondo is wonderful as Soledad as the apartment’s sole Spanish grad student who sympathizes with Isabelle’s confusion of the dialects as she is annoyed by William’s perception of Spanish people. Wladimir Yordanoff is excellent as Jean-Charles Perrin as a doctor working at Barcelona for a year as he would let Xavier stay with him and keep his wife company unaware of Xavier’s feelings for his wife. Kevin Bishop is hilarious as Wendy’s immature brother William who likes to say bad jokes and things that offend people yet would prove his worth in a moment late in the film just to help his sister. Audrey Tautou is brilliant as Martine as Xavier’s girlfriend who isn’t happy about him living in France as her brief visit to Barcelona only makes things worse as she copes with the long-distance relationship and her own direction in life. Kelly Reilly is amazing as Wendy as the British student who is known for being a neat-freak of sorts while trying to loosen up as she becomes interested in an American musician.

Judith Godreche is incredible as Anne-Sophie as Jean-Charles’ newlywed wife who deals with her husband’s work and her fear of being alone as she enjoys Xavier’s company where she starts to have feelings for Xavier. Cecile de France is phenomenal as Isabelle as a Belgian student who would share a room with Xavier as she is an open lesbian who knows how to charm women as she would help Xavier while dealing with her own romantic entanglements. Finally, there’s Romain Duris in a remarkable performance as Xavier as a French economic grad student who goes to Barcelona unaware of what will happen there as he deals with a lot as Duris display a lot of humor as well as humility into a young man that is experiencing so much.

L’Auberge Espagnole is a spectacular film from Cedric Klapisch. Featuring a great ensemble cast, a compelling story of love and growth into adulthood, gorgeous locations, and a fun soundtrack. It’s a film that play into the lives of different people living in an apartment in Barcelona and how it would shape the life of a young man in his journey into manhood. In the end, L’Auberge Espagnole is a sensational film from Cedric Klapisch.

Cedric Klapisch Films: (Riens du tout) – (Le Peril jeune) – (When the Cat’s Away) – (Family Resemblances) – (Peut-etre) – (Not For, or Against (Quite the Contrary) – (Russian Dolls) – (Paris (2008 film)) – (My Piece of the Pie) – (Chinese Puzzle) – (La Vin et le vent)

© thevoid99 2018

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