Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on October 22nd, 2003
Romain Duris plays a young man who wants to get a good job in the French bureaucracy, andneeds to improve his Spanish. In order to do this, he leaves Paris to live for a year in Barcelona,much to the chagrin of his girlfriend (Audrey Tautou). After navigating the red tape (a realplague in France, and hilariously, mercilessly satirized here), he’s off. Once in Barcelona, hewinds up living in an apartment that he shares with other students from England, Germany,Belgium, Italy….. you get the idea. Duris’ character is far from being a saint. He cheats on Tautou,but then is hurt when she dumps him. None of the characters, in fact, are pure of heart, but theyare convincingly human, and Duris’ transition to maturity is nicely handled, warts and all. Thezany humour of the opening gives way to a more rambling pace (some might say meandering),but the finely observed characterizations hold one’s attention throughout. Do note that whileTautou (a big name now thanks to Amélie is featured prominently on the case, her role isactually quite small.
The 5.1 mix is beautifully handled. The voices are clear and never distort, and the musicsounds very nice without being overpowering. A special salute to the quality of the sound effectsand their placement. The environmental effect is close to being total, and the left-right/front-rearseparations are very strong. The moments of chaos are really nicely done.
The picture comes in both fullscreen and 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspects (one on eachside of the disc). The picture is variable. Generally speaking, it’s not bad, but the reds andoranges are pushed a bit, leading to some strange skin tones early on, and a nightclub scene israther grainy. The picture isn’t always as sharp as it could be, and there is some edgeenhancement. The exterior scenes in Barcelona, however, look great.
Utterly bereft of extras, but an enjoyable film, so worth a rental, at the very least.