“The Spanish Apartment

Corey Lehnert

Sometimes, after watching films comprised largely of bizarre fascist governments, down-and-out newspaper magnates, self-aware supercomputers, and Federico Fellini, one just needs a break.
All of those -isms absorbed from the films – postmodernism, Marxism, existentialism, etc. – swell up in your brain and threaten to make you realize the fallacy that is modern society.
Such times call for “The Spanish Apartment,” a movie that consoles you, caresses you, and then takes you to the bars so that you might stay sane.
The 2002 film “The Spanish Apartment,” directed by Cedric Klapisch, follows a year in the life of Xavier (Romain Duris), a French graduate student who decides to go to Barcelona for a year via an exchange program in order to complete his studies.
Looking for a place to stay, Xavier decides to move into an apartment full of other graduate students from all over Western Europe.
Quickly befriending his new roommates, Xavier embarks upon a year of parties and other escapades he will never forget.
Yes, “The Spanish Apartment” might seem a bit clichd, what with the “escapades he’ll never forget” and all, but something about the film renders this point moot.
The characters, though occasionally falling into vague stereotypes like the lazy Italian and itinerant German, go about their lives in such busied fashion that they – and the audience – don’t have time to give a damn about such matters.
Part of the movie’s charm comes from its feeling of authenticity. There is no powerful climax or glorified ending; instead, the film focuses on the local everyday highs and lows of a group of twentysomethings.
The roommates end old relationships and start new ones, go clubbing and go to class all in perfectly ordinary manner.
When the movie ends, there is no guarantee of happiness – Xavier no longer has his Spanish apartment, his girlfriend, or his job – but he still possesses a contagious optimism about the future.
The effect of all this ordinariness is to foster a powerful attachment to the characters such that you’ll never want the film to end.
What we’re all watching for, after all, is a good time, and “The Spanish Apartment” delivers in the fullest sense.
The end of Xavier’s year abroad must come at some point, and so must the film, and the audience, like Xavier, will never want this to happen.