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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 17.39%
Average: 26.09%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Spanish Apartment, The
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by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"When people stop being nice and start being Spanish"
3 stars

The title translates roughly as "Euro Pudding," which is another example of an elegant foreign phrase losing its zip in translation. The latest from French director Cédric Klapisch (WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY...), this is a fluffy, mildly diverting piece that doesn't aim too high. If it's not very compelling, at least it's not boring, either.

Young French economics student Xavier (Romain Duris) travels to sexy Barcelona to pursue his studies, in the process leaving behind his possessive girlfriend (Audrey Tautou, who's getting quite good at psycho-bitch roles--see also HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT). In Spain, he's forced to stay at a cramped apartment with a half-dozen other students, each from a different European country. If this sounds like an episode of THE REAL WORLD--EUROPE, then you have the general idea of the style and substance of this film, which brings a pseudo-documentary approach to the everyday battles of these very different youngsters.

When I read Kerouac's ON THE ROAD, I remember feeling slightly disturbed to notice that its author seemed to be unaware of the distinction between having a major spiritual experience and merely getting wasted all over the countryside. Something like that came to mind while watching this film (based in part on Klapisch's own experiences as a student abroad), which in its final minutes aspires to a BREAKFAST CLUB-style epiphany: we are all brothers so let's join hands and walk lock-step into the sunset. Look, man, maybe you had fun spending a year in another country, but let's not get carried away with the mystical insights.

Until then, it's a fairly pleasant if modest film, with witty comments on culture clash (one funny recurring riff is based on a Spanish word that sounds a lot like "fuck"). Klapisch's main fault--and it's not fatal by any means--is a tendency to try for too much: his film ambles on for over two hours, and though the length isn't especially trying, you get the feeling that some of this could have been cut at no particular loss.

What you come away with in this movie is a sense of how ordinary these kids are. They're really not terribly interesting people, possibly because Klapisch is too concerned with shooting for "universality" to make them come alive as individuals. When he does try to make them charmingly quirky, he sometimes overdoes it, as with the English lad whose function in the film seems to be to behave as obnoxiously as possible.

But still, this film succeeds more than it doesn't, and Klapisch keeps things rolling smoothly. Its central message--that we're more alike than different--is admittedly a bit banal, but it all goes down easy.

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originally posted: 05/19/03 11:42:02
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2003 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/02/04 Miranda Lurv this one! 5 stars
7/25/04 laura fantastic, a definate must for those who have ever been in a foreign country 5 stars
6/17/04 Dian OP I love this movie 5 stars
1/14/04 victoria loved it, your critic is a twit 4 stars
12/15/03 Brian Deacon Perhaps a bit simplistic, but still enjoyable. 4 stars
7/25/03 zara EFC gave a bad review. what's wrong with "ordinary" people? a film close to heart. 5 stars
7/16/03 Sebastien A great film for any of us that has spent some time abroad ! 5 stars
7/03/03 Lonners Excellent 5 stars
6/09/03 The mother mouse, baby mice, & the cat... Mice: we're trapped! Mom(on hind legs):GRRR! Cat(runs). Mom:see the value of a 2nd lang.? 5 stars
5/21/03 Pedant L'AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE == The Spanish Hostel, (French) Word like 'fuck' is Le Fac. 4 stars
5/15/03 Joris smooth, happy, funny, nice. Erasmus. Worth a look. 4 stars
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  16-May-2003 (R)



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