Les Poupées Russes (Russian Dolls)
If L'Auberge Espagnole is a coming of age movie, Les Poupées Russes is about searching for and finding one's path in life. Five years have passed since Xavier and his friends lived together in their small Barcelona apartment, but now they are all re-united in St. Petersburg for the wedding of Wendy's brother William.
The movie resembles the chaotic nature of Xavier's brain in L'Auberge Espagnole and director Cédric Klapisch uses a non-linear narrative to depict a character that is no longer a student and yet nowhere close to being a well-balanced, clear-headed adult either. The opening scene shows Xavier and the Barcelona crew on the streets of St. Petersburg as Xavier explains that this is a turning point in his life but, in order to understand why, he has to go back a few months.
So as spectators we return to Paris, where Xavier has chosen the path of a writing career, but his small jobs here and there aren't amounting to anything extraordinary. Eventually he teams with London-based Wendy in order to write a soap opera.
The work is only the background, the real heart of the movie are Xavier's personal relationships; Wendy, his ex-girlfriend Martine, and the young supermodel Celia for whom he is ghost-writing an autobiography. We see a confused young man, running back and forth between cities and countries as quickly as he fluctuates between emotions.
The movie jumps between Paris and London, with Xavier constantly commuting on the Eurostar as he tries to find a focus for his life, both emotionally and career-wise. This is a modern Europe with no boundaries to nationality, language or culture.
William learns Russian and moves to St. Petersburg, Xavier trades the Eiffel Tower for Oxford Street, and British Wendy insists on always eating a petit déjeuner français while Xavier opts for bacon and eggs. The constant movement between places and language during the movie is emblematic of a modern society in which confusion is inevitable but experiences are rich. – Anna Brones