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Best Movies About Travel: L’auberge Espagnole

Written by Film

As a student currently on a Year Abroad, it’s fair to say that travelling doesn’t always live up to Hollywood’s portrayal.

Paris wasn’t full of Bond girl-like women catching your eye on the metro, in fact I more often came across angry old French women who couldn’t find a seat. In Barcelona currently, there is plenty of light night sangria drinking, but on every night there’s normally at least one casualty to the city’s pickpocketing.

However, whilst on my travels, I have come across one film that seemed to capture the Erasmus travelling experience pretty perfectly.

There’s nothing glamorised about his travels as the most comical moments come at the character’s expense.

L’Auberge espagnole, or Pot Luck in English, is a 2002 film set in Barcelona which centres around a French student’s Erasmus stay in the Catalan city. As he mixes with students from all over the world, there isn’t really one language the film stays in, cutting from French to Spanish to English to Catalan to even Danish.

Really, that’s what makes it so spot on. One minute main character, Xavier, understands what’s going on and then the next he’s clueless. There’s nothing glamorised about his travels as the most comical moments come at the character’s expense.

A Parisian student who seeks to perfect his Spanish, Xavier arrives in Barcelona to find his planned housing has fallen through and must shack up with a French doctor and his wife who he met on the flight over (he later goes on to have a fling with the older man’s wife). Meanwhile, he battles with his host University’s administrative system in a comic welcome-office sketch that will resonate with Erasmus students across the world.

L’Auberge espagnole is good-hearted fun that stays far away from Hollywood cliché.

Eventually, he lands himself in a flat share with a group of other Erasmus students from England, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany and Denmark. As Xavier starts going out and partying with his new unconventional group the miscommunications and drunken antics commence.

Playing on hilarious stereotypes, that probably wouldn’t have gone down all too well in 2019, L’Auberge espagnole is good-hearted fun that stays far away from Hollywood cliché. British housemate, Wendy (probably best known for her role as Mary Watson in the 2009 & 2011 Sherlock Homes films), is particular gold as she welcomes her brash British ‘lad’ of a brother over to visit, whose comprehension of other cultures in non-existent.

L’Auberge espagnole may hardly be a travel blockbuster that everyone has heard of, but for University students on their travels, it’s a bit of a cult classic.

Last modified: 8th May 2019

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