Saturday, 3 February 2007

Film: The Spanish Apartment

Lowdown: The European Union should be a success story if it follows the trends set in the Spanish Apartment.
Yet another French film that is more of a European film, this time about the European Union itself. Or so to speak.
We follow Xavier, a young Parisian dude who wants to have success in this life. His father sorts him out with this guy that offers him a lucrative job handling Spanish financial issues from Paris if Xavier could go on this student exchange program in Spain and get to know what Spain is all about.
Xavier goes through all the bureaucracy, and quickly enough we find him at the airport saying goodbye to his mother and his girlfriend (Audrey Tautou, the only famous face in the film). On the plain he breaks down, but soon he stands up again as he looks to find a place to live in Barcelona while doing his studies. He meets this weird French couple and stays with them for a while, but eventually he ends up sharing an apartment together with other youths of his age: A German, an Italian, a Belgium, a Dane, a Spaniard, and an English (hope I didn't forget anyone). Together they have lots of adventures and lots of bonding, and that's pretty much the story in a nutshell.
Although shot and edited in a hip, let's aim at young audiences style, there is not much substance behind this film to support it. Most of the plot is driven by the hormones of the various apartment sharing heroes, although surprisingly for a French film nudity is disappointingly missing. While the film ends up feeling like a European take on American Pie, it is quite entertaining and at its basis lies the premises of trying to show the bright future ahead of the European Union, as symbolized by the apartment dwellers.
Together the people of the apartment face lots of tough challenges: People with prejudices who don't believe in the merits of the union, mostly. Examples include the annoying girlfriend (Ms Tautou again) who has a hard time accepting her boyfriend having a good time in Spain, the English brother of the English apartment partner who is full of prejudice towards the rest - especially the German, and so on. It is not to anyone's surprise that one of the key conflicts in the film is caused by a love affair between the English apartment dweller and a shallow American guy she met - explained by the English as the result of sexual urges.
If that's not surprising then the presentation of Paris as a boring place next to Barcelona definitely is, thus showing the overly aggressive and artificial way in which the message of Euro-ism is force fed on the viewers.
Best scene: All the apartment dwellers join forces to help the English dweller hide her American love affair when her English boyfriend comes over for a visit. This spirit cooperation is exactly what the film is trying to convey.
This scene is closely followed by another scene in which a lesbian woman teaches Xavier how to win the heart (and more than the heart) of a woman in a scene that, despite keeping all of its clothes on, would not be out of place in some adult only production.
Overall: The force feeding is annoying, but the film is pretty entertaining at its shallows - 2.5 stars.

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