by Emily Hall

L'Auberge Espagnole

dir. Cedric Klapisch

Opens Fri May 30

Fox Tower

On the bland, tossed-off recommendation of a family friend, Parisian twentysomething Xavier decides to spend a year studying economics in Barcelona--one of those half-assed decisions that changes your life. In Barcelona, the New Europe is assembled in a shared student apartment, where the residents can hardly escape embodying their national stereotypes (the German is neat; the Italian is an amorous slob; the loutish visitor who points it out is, of course, an asshole). This film's title is translated, depending on who you ask, as "pot luck," "free-for-all," and "Euro pudding," and the Spanish translation is Una Casa de Locos, which also has a certain truth; one of the best things about it is not, as you might expect, Audrey Tatou as Xavier's demanding girlfriend back home, but the gorgeous Cécile De France as a Belgian lesbian who instructs Xavier in the mechanics of lovemaking. When she tells Xavier it's a shame he's not a girl he responds, with lovely vagueness, "the world is badly made."

The question that is deftly asked by the film's rather sitcom-style, but also frequently charming result, is one of identity and youth--how hard do you hold on to either of them?--and proves that a sweet movie can also have little pockets of depth.