The 2002 hit L'Auberge Espagnole followed the adventures of Xavier (Romain Duris), a moody young Frenchman, as he shared an apartment in Barcelona with six other young people from around Europe. During their year together, the roommates taught each other valuable lessons about identity and friendship—whilst simultaneously getting loaded and having lots of sex. The new sequel, Russian Dolls (Les Poupées Russes), has much in common with its predecessor: It features the same cast, including Audrey Tatou; the same goofy editing; and the same implicit message that quarter-life angst is an international phenomenon.
Here, Xavier is living in Paris, where his dream of being a novelist has surrendered to the necessity of paying bills. He works as a freelance writer, writing soap operas, celebrity biographies, and whatever else comes his way. He has girl troubles, although this doesn't stop him from sleeping with every beautiful woman he finds. His troubles, we are informed, stem from an inability to separate fantasy from reality: He is searching for the perfect girl (and by "searching for," I mean "having sex with and then discarding as unsuitable"), unable to accept that no woman will ever live up to his impossible standards.
Like L'Auberge Espagnole, much of the fun of Russian Dolls comes from a portrayal of Europe as being populated entirely by sexy young people who maintain quirky cultural differences while respecting the same principles of fashion. The film's not exactly mind blowing—it's a little long-winded, and the ending should be obvious to anyone who's ever seen a movie before—but Russian Dolls does offer some novel twists. It accurately portrays the sexual habits of most twentysomethings, for one thing; for another, it's fascinating to see how your perception of Xavier changes depending on what language he's speaking. Russian Dolls isn't going to blow anyone away, but it's still a fun, sexy romp through three countries and as many languages.