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Movie Review: L'Auberge Espagnole

Story: L'Auberge Espagnole translates roughly to mean European pudding. Take an ensemble cast from six different European countries (England, Belgium, France, Denmark, Germany and Spain) throw them in a small apartment together while they are studying at an international graduate school and you do, in fact, have a melange of flavors which when blended just right, tastes great.

The film reminded me a bit of a reality TV format (MTV's Real World) only better. Writer and director Cedric Klapisch (When the Cat's Away) skillfully manages to stay on target using this international cast to represent the challenges and solutions that the new European Union faces. Their cultural and political differences are explored through the trivialities of daily life.

The film keeps up a delightful pace through story line vignettes and fanciful camera work. If you are in need of a lighthearted well meaning summer film, this one's for you.

Acting: The ensemble cast works well together. It is always interesting to see foreign films with foreign faces whose cookie cutter American ideal of what passes for good looks is different from ours. Vive la difference!

Predilection: Since NYC has been inundated in cold, wet weather we looked for a film that featured the sun as a cameo player. I also love Barcelona (including Antonin Gaudi's architecture) which was a perfect setting for this international story.

Critters: A horse in a fleeting dream sequence.

Food: Lots of food from fine home cooked traditional specialties to junk food. One of the funniest sequences involved a neurosurgeon demonstrating how the cerebellum worked by using food from the dinner table as illustration.

Visual Art: Nice touches of student art from paintings to photos.

Blatant Product Placement: Heineken

Soundtrack: Soulful variety of international tunes.

Opening Titles: Clever graphics.

Theater Audience: Crowded with a variety of ages from twenty something's to seniors. This film has a broad deserving appeal.

Quirky Meter: 3 - The camerawork alone earns this rating.

Predictability Level: High

Oscar Worthy: Cecile De France, who played the young Belgium lesbian won a Cesar (France's equivalent to the Oscar) last year as best female newcomer.

Nit Picking: No nits to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: Give your self a break from all of the crappy summer movie releases and go see this on the big screen,

Length: A bit under two hours.