Romain Duris, Judith Godrèche, Audrey Tautou, Cécile de France
In French, Spanish, English; widescreen; full screen; English, Spanish subtitles.
|The frisky French writer/director Cédric Klapisch imbues his bright, captivating film "L'Auberge Espagnole" with much of the whimsy that he brought to "When the Cat's Away," his cheery valentine to a Parisian working-class neighborhood in the midst of gentrification. But there's a lot more than blithe spirits in "L'Auberge Espagnole," which follows the social and emotional progress of French exchange student Xavier (Romain Duris) who relocates from Paris to Barcelona to complete a graduate course in economics. It's painful for Xavier to leave his adoring girlfriend (Audrey Tautou of "Amélie," in a small role) in Paris. He's flustered by the exotic, vibrant energy of his new city, the unfamiliar language and the challenge of finding lodging. At first, his only friends are a bourgeois French couple, an overbearing doctor and his timid, pretty wife (Judith Godrèche). Xavier soon finds a home in a cluttered apartment that he shares with what seems like a European Union of fellow students. Klapisch and his fresh, genuine cast create an optimistic, metaphorical view of a united Europe that's part travelogue, with the baroque beauty of Barcelona as a backdrop.|