L'Auberge Espagnole  (The Spanish Apartment)  (2002)


Starring: Romain Duris, Judith Godreche, Audrey Tautou

Director: CÚdric Klapisch

Rating: R

Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment

Release Date: December 23, 2003
Review posted: January 7, 2004

Spoilers: None


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




Xavier (Duris) is a straight-laced French college senior who moves to Barcelona as part of a student exchange program, much to the dismay of his beautiful girlfriend Martine (Tautou). But sharing cramped quarters with students from all over Europe quickly leads to multi-cultural chaos as Xavier gets a hilarious, eye-opening lesson on how to live, love, laugh... and party!




Most foreign films I watch are from France. Some of them are very good and showcase the talents of the filmmakers. The latest example is CÚdric Klapisch and his semi coming-of-age story entitled L'Auberge Espagnole, the title translates into The Spanish Apartment. Klapisch's script takes the point of view of a Parisian college student as he explores new places, sexuality, the values of friendship, and city adventure. The actor playing the role is Romain Duris. He gives a somewhat subtle performance at the beginning of the film, yet Duris adapts as the character becomes more familiar with his surroundings and makes new friends, creating a natural performance. He is joined by a variety of actors from different countries, including England, Germany and Spain. In fact, all of the actors give natural and good performances.


L'Auberge Espagnole is not just about performances, but also about the progression of the story. The script goes into cool subjects and places; it explores life in a new place where much of what one knows is different. Seeing as how I'm the same age as the characters in the film I related to the story in a big way. After seeing the film I felt like doing the same thing, namely taking part in a student exchange program and experience life in a city like London or Paris. To put it simply, I enjoyed this film a lot. I laughed with and felt for the characters. The only aside I could make out is a handful of scenes appeared to be more episodic than following narrative drama. In summation, L'Auberge Espagnole is genuine and funny experience. Check it out.


The Video


Fox presents L'Auberge Espagnole in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen on side B. For reference, side A contains the film in fullscreen format. Director CÚdric Klapisch shot the film in high definition video so the quality is not as distinguished as in film. The picture looks decent, but sometimes a bit soft. Much of the print looks very good, except for some minor specks and grain. Minor edge enhancement shows up in several exterior scenes, but sharpness and detail look good. Compression artifacts do not appear. Colors are well-saturated and warm, although reds look partially muddy. As a whole, Fox's presentation looks just fine.


The Audio


Fox presents L'Auberge Espagnole in French 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. The film features a lot of different languages, which is where the English subtitles come in. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The soundtrack doesn't show a lot of action, but the surrounds come in handy quite nicely during the film's exteriors and cool songs. There's some good punch here, such as the sound effects giving off nice ambience creating a welcome experience. Yet the rear speakers only come alive during certain spots, most of the audio is located in the front. Overall, it's a nice presentation.


A Spanish Dolby Surround dub is also available.


The Extras


There is nothing here. Absolutely nothing! Not even a trailer or two. A 20-minute making-of exists somewhere out there, it is credited on IMDB, but Fox chose not to include it here. Perhaps this was due to budgetary reasons since the featurette probably needed subtitles, but it's not like the studio is shorthanded in money. Whatever the reason is, this release is disappointing.


You can select to view the film with optional English and Spanish subtitles. The 122-minute feature is organized into twenty-eight chapters. A paper insert lists scene selections.




L'Auberge Espagnole is funny, original, smart and charming. The cast is a blast, the location is extravagant, and the characters are interesting. So it shouldn't come as a surprise then that this is a very enjoyable film. Fox's video/audio quality is good. Despite the abundance of even one bonus material, I recommend a rental for the sake of the film. Have fun.









OVERALL (not an average)









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