At first sight, this film is a lively and engaging comedy, particularly for anybody familiar with the world of Erasmus students. Klapisch has undoubtedly succeeded in capturing the atmosphere of the multi-national student squat, creating an immediately interesting cultural crossroads, and of course a premise for lots of stereotyped jokes. And what trendier place for it all to take place than Barcelona ? The film's sparky characterisation (particularly Wendy zi English and her 'geezer' of a brother) proves that Klapish has observed intently the lifestyle and behaviour of today's European student travelers.
However, this does not hide a handful of gaping holes in the plot, which are easily noticeable on a second viewing of the film.
L'auberge espagnole falls arms flailing into the voice-over trap: drastic over-use throughout. Whether Klapisch intended to give a bird's eye view of the action, or simply to speed up the pace of the film at times, the result of too much voice-over is that Xavier's character loses its authenticity.
Romain Duris's acting is wooden - particularly with so many beautiful females around. As for Judith Godreche, she plays a non-starter of a part. Her character has no proper relationship with either of her men.
Klapish has paid attention to some nice little details. A quick shot of a sandal's foot on a marble staircase, William the English lad's upturned collar, and a TV clip of the Catalan sport of human tower-building, for example.
However these little gems cannot hide flagrant over-editing which stagger the flow of the film and dissolve any feeling of resolution at the end. The frantic city running scene à la 007 is ridiculous: why ALL the house mates have to return so suddenly remains a mystery.
Some say this film makes political reference to the leading European powers. I think that it just wants to be a light entertaining comedy: it nearly fails even to be that !