Auberge espagnole, L' [2002]

An absolute delight, L'Auberge Espagnole captures a moment in a life, seemingly about nothing and everything all at once. Xavier (Romain Duris), a young Parisian not sure what his life is about, decides to spend a year in Barcelona studying economics--leaving behind his unhappy girlfriend (Audrey Tautou, Amélie) but joining an international mix of students in a hectic, crowded apartment. Arguing and partying with his British, German, Danish, and Italian roommates--not to mention getting lessons in love from a Belgian lesbian (Cecile De France) so that he can seduce a friend's wife (Judith Godreche, Ridicule)--Xavier learns more about life than economics. The movie, beautifully shot on digital video, has a freshness and spontaneity that make its simple events--a series of arguments and flirtations--feel like a miniature portrait of the European Union as it comes into focus (the title can be translated as "Euro pudding"). Vibrant, charming, and all-around entertaining. --Bret Fetzer

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