L’AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE refers to the Spanish inn that several young adults and teenagers share in Barcelona, and, according the main character, also refers to a pudding made up of European youths from various different countries. It is a movie about sex, drugs, parties, and other youthful indiscretions.
The movie starts with a very self-conscious 1960s point of view of a young French university student named Xavier who’s debating how to start his novel. He is sitting at his typewriter stark naked. His recollections are speeded up in a frenetic fashion and computerized additions (such as transcripts and arrows) are placed on the screen.
Xavier is almost through with university and seeks out a friend of his father’s to get a job with the European Union. The friend tells him to learn Spanish and his career is assured, so he joins a foreign exchange program called The Erasmus Program and heads to Barcelona to study for a year.
In Barcelona, Xavier gets involved with a French couple. The husband is a neurologist who takes offers him lodging, and the wife, Anne-Sophie, is a beautiful French girl who feels out of place in Spain. Eventually, Xavier has an intense adulterous affair with Anne-Sophie.
Then, he finds an apartment to share with an English girl, a German, an Italian, a Scandinavian who speaks English, and a Spanish girl. A girl in his economics class is looking for a place to stay. They invite her to share the apartment, and she turns out to be a lesbian who instructs Xavier in explicit sexual lessons on how to please a woman.
Most of the movie focuses on these youth, with an emphasis on sex, drugs, and partying. The audience is told at the beginning of the movie that Barcelona is the biggest party city in Europe, where people wake up at night, have dinner, and go on to wild Ecstasy-filled parties. Drugs flow freely.
The landlord inspects the apartment one day which is a mess, and is upset that the Virgin Mary has been taken out of her shrine and replaced by a toy robot. This is the only nod to religion.
L’AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE has captured good reviews from the secular film festivals and the press. In truth, it is a very superficial, dull and myopic movie. For those who went through wild teenage years, it is clear that there was more to it than just sex, drugs and partying, but the “more to it” has nothing to do with this movie. There are no great discussions, no philosophical arguments, and no debates. This bunch of university students appears to be brain dead or thinking with the wrong parts of their bodies.
Xavier has visions of Erasmus coming to him, but he tells people he doesn’t know who Erasmus is. Of course, Erasmus is the brilliant Roman Catholic theologian who debated the Protestant Reformers. Whether or not you agree with his theology, it would be nice if someone in this movie talked about his theology, philosophy and Christian humanism.
Xavier’s sexcapades become so fanciful that the movie could be classified as a fantasy rather than a drama. Also, nearly every time he talks with his mother, he tells her, “Shut the ‘f’ up.”
These young Europeans need Jesus Christ. Their life in Barcelona resembles a hedonistic hell, but the consequences of their actions are never shown. If they weren’t such obnoxious characters, the audience might even be moved to pray for them.
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Lindsay Law, President
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
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(HH, Ab, LLL, V, SSS, NN, AA, DD, M) Strong humanist worldview with no redemptive elements and slight religious mockery; 42 obscenities and four profanities; light violence where teenagers fall down in drunken stupor; constant sexual innuendo, homosexual kissing and groping, adultery shown several times though sex act is avoided, oral sex clearly implied and discussed, and several shots of teenagers and young adults in bed with each other; upper male and female nudity, male sits nude in chair with pubic hair shown, and full rear male nudity in sex scene; drunkenness; smoking, depicted marijuana use, Ecstasy use discussed, and youths pass out in town square; and, deception, condoning adultery, lying.