The Spanish Inn: Is Klapisch’s Trilogy the Story of a Little Con?

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The Spanish inn
March Distribution

The cult comedy returns to NRJ12.

While waiting to learn more about Greek salad, the Amazon Prime Video TV series based on the films of Cédric Klapisch, NRJ12 launches in the replay of the trilogy on Tuesday evening. It starts at 9:05 p.m. with The Spanish inn. In 2013, at the time of the release of Chinese puzzle, premiere had posted some thoughts on his “hero”, Xavier, played by Romain Duris. Flashblack.

“Xavier, you have to do something, because you’re fucking stupid” says Isabelle (Cécile de France) to Xavier (Romain Duris) in a sequence of Chinoi puzzles. One might wonder, however, if the hero of the “Xavier’s travels trilogy” started in 2002 with The Spanish inn hasn’t been a little jerk from the start. So much so that one of the main narrative issues of the last part seems to be to buy back its main character to finally make him leave this embarrassing label. If in First, Cédric Klapisch refutes “The idea that it was better before and that young people are all idiots”, it is good that the gaze carried by the public on the hero of his trilogy worries the filmmaker. Chinese puzzle is it the story of a jerk’s redemption? An attempt to respond through a portrait of Klapisch’s hero, considered by some to be the emblem of an entire generation.
Damien Leblanc

Beware, spoilers!

A smug, self-centered boy

Xavier has always tended to make unpleasant judgments about those around him. “You are not very rock’n’roll as a girl, but you know it well”, he said to Anne-Sophie (Judith Godrèche) in The Spanish inn. Always happy with himself and convinced that he is a cool boy, he criticizes his roommate Wendy (Kelly Reilly) for being too serious, then considers in Russian Dolls than his neighbor Mr. Boubakeur “Is the most uninteresting guy in the world. “ Other marks of contempt are directed at a worker Xavier interviews (“I’m like you, I have a shitty job that I’m asked to do that pisses me off.” I don’t give a fuck asking you questions ”) or to the political commitments of Martine (Audrey Tautou): “It’s impressive, you learned your text well. “ Unable to make a selfless gesture towards others in Russian Dolls, Xavier softens however in Chinese puzzle and shows a new altruism by agreeing to donate his sperm so that her lesbian friend Isabelle can have a child. He also showed greater humility during his stay in New York, where he wanted to settle down to see his two children. In search of a residence permit, the now forty-something hero finds himself in the shoes of an undocumented migrant and thereby faces problems of a magnitude that he did not know. Divorced but attached to his role as father of a family, Xavier will then be less aggressive and haughty towards those around him, although he still has a natural nervousness in him.

An odious son

If Xavier’s father (played by the late Jacno) only appears ten seconds in The Spanish inn, the hero’s mother (played by Martine Demaret) suffers the wrath of her son from the first moments of the trilogy. She thus wipes a ” Shut up mom “ at the airport then a “Fuck mom, shut up” in the middle of the movie, and continues to undergo roughly the same treatment in Russian Dolls. However, the relationship between Xavier and his mother turns out to be calmer from the first minutes of Chinese puzzle. As he announces his divorce, he listens to his mother’s remarks (“Oh no Xavier, you don’t have to make the same mistakes as me and your father.” It’s awful, you went so well together. “) without yelling at him. And is reconciled moreover over the course of the film with his own family history. His father (embodied this time by filmmaker Benoit Jacquot) visits him in New York and allows him to see at the bend of a Manhattan street that real feelings of love united in their youth the parents of Xavier, now divorced. This possibility of finally understanding what his parents went through contributes to the appeasement of the character.

Cédric Klapsich: “I am very proud of L’Auberge Espagnol”

An inveterate liar

While it was understandable to see Xavier and his comrades from the Barcelona roommate manipulate reality (especially in the sequence where they hide from Wendy’s boyfriend that she has an American lover), Xavier’s various lies in Russian Dolls were less glorious from a thirty-something. Making his own grandfather believe that he is dating his lesbian friend Isabelle or lying to the television channel which employs him as a screenwriter, Xavier presented all the faults of the teenager who refuses to face reality. If the art of concealment persists in Chinese puzzleXavier’s lies are now directed to US immigration services and presented as necessary. With Xavier’s white marriage to a Chinese woman, the lie takes on more political and heroic attire here. Faced with greater responsibilities, it is as a father that Xavier is lying this time and Cédric Klapisch maliciously manages to pass off these lies as challenges to the system and generators of social bond that ultimately allow several characters to meet and exchange beyond their differences.

A navelist in voice-over

Omnipresent in the trilogy, the hero’s voice-over highlights the obvious that locks the character into small self-satisfied certainties. That’s it, a love story is above all a story “Xavier thinks to himself, for example, who seems constantly (and in a dismaying way) to discover incredible truths: “It’s crazy how strong these supra-cons moments are. “ Even in moments of doubt and discouragement, the voice-over has the gift of imposing the point of the character by making him appear as a great thinker. “There it is me. I will soon be 30 years old, alone again, with my face of me, without being able to do anything about it. I am me, asshole me ”. But this unpleasantly systematic voice-over can also be wrong, as when Xavier says in The Spanish inn about Martine: “I knew this was the last time we kissed. “ Seeming to be aware of the relativity of the formulas expressed in the voice-over, Cédric Klapisch gives him a narrative role that is slightly less decisive in Chinese puzzle. Always present, yet it blends into a denser action and plot that leaves less room for navel-gazing. Immersion in New York City allows the staging to take over several times. Filmed in a less touristy way than Barcelona, ​​London or Saint Petersburg were, the American city finally allows the character to become one with its environment and no longer continuously shelter behind a voice-over which was above all a way of keep the real at a distance. And not to grow up.

After The Spanish Inn and Russian Dolls, Chinese Puzzle comes full circle

An immature lover

“I don’t know anything about love myself, I’m an egoist, I only think of my face. ” This admission of Xavier in Russian Dolls sums up quite well the awkward or even obnoxious behavior of the character with women. After seducing a married woman (Anne-Sophie) in The Spanish inn, he drops Kassia (Aïssa Maïga) in Russian Dolls yelling at him: “If you don’t like it, you can break yourself.” You all piss me off, you are all assholes ”. In the same film, he gives in to the superficial reign of appearances by sleeping with top model Célia (Lucy Gordon) and lying for it to Wendy, with whom he has been dating for a few days. If Xavier began to accept at the end of Russian dolls that love cannot “To catch oneself directly, and that one is obliged to follow a path” by finally finding a balance in Wendy’s arms, the character however struggles with the idea of ​​his separation with the English at the beginning of Chinese Puzzle, after ten years of relationship. One of the challenges of the film will then consist in making Xavier accept the idea that a breakup is not a failure and that his children can also flourish within a blended family. Less obsessed with the idea of ​​permanent control and less obsessed with his desire, the character learns to let himself be taken in by the unexpected and will thereby find an unprecedented type of happiness, in particular by letting a woman around him take matters in hand.

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