Les Poupees Russes

Searching for something to entertain myself with tonight, I initially was looking for an old Shirley MacLaine film. Unfortunately YouTube didn’t have much to offer, and I’d already watched “The Apartment” (Jack Lemmon!). However, I entered “The Apartment,” hoping for more of her films to show up in the results, and found “L’Auberge Espagnole” or “The Spanish Apartment,”  which I rented years ago, and quite enjoyed (I think I just picked it up by chance at the library). It’s primarily about a young French guy studying in Barcelona with the Erasmus program, and the mélange of people he lives with from different countries. Having spent four years on a college campus that also held an English language school, and then just last year living in a flat with people from a handful of different countries, I can relate. In fact, in re-watching “The Spanish Apartment” tonight, after a few years, it made me a bit nostalgic for all of the colorful people I’ve met.

 Actually it also made me rather sad. To think of so many young people, feeling lost and repeatedly unable to commit to anyone or anything. Pitiful. 

Come to find out there is the sequel “Les Poupées Russes” or “The Russian Dolls,” which follows the French protagonist Xavier in his quest for love. Or whatever he thinks is love. At times his ways were disappointing, as were the ways of many of the women he encountered. He at least admits to being a mess. 

They’re both great films, with creative cinematic elements, wonderfully developed characters, and beautiful settings, from Paris to St. Petersburg. While a good way to spend a Sunday night, they weren’t complete home-runs for me. I really hope that they don’t generally represent twenty-somethings (well thirty-somethings in Russian Dolls) the world over, but I have a feeling they do. Made me extra glad that I found my guy.


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