Didn't think I'd like this sequel because L'Auberge Espagnole
wasn't all the memorable. It just stuck as a light flick about a few adolescents in colorful Europe. Diverse set of characters, lively surroundings, spontaneous friendship, heart-breaking infatuations. Nice and fluffy. Makes you want to travel and meet people your age. That's about it. May be there was more to it, but I just didn't identify with that Xavier character..Russian Dolls
is different, however. Same colorful scenes, poignant characters, dynamicity in episodes, but the story strikes closer to home. This Xavier somehow seems more real and so is his search. I think the movie particularly shines when compared to Alfie
where the main character is also entangled in a myriad of romances. But unlike a thoughtless playboy waiting for a lesson in life, Xavier is restlessly trying to understand himself. It's no coincidence that he's an aspiring writer stuck writing cliche-infested soap opera scripts, junk short stories, and other mediocre works for mass consumption while dreaming of the "real thing"..
I was lucky that I didn't realize the translation of "Russian Dolls" until the end of the movie. It's a powerful analogy that I think applies not just to Man's search for Woman, but life in general. Perhaps to remove the gender and cultural connotations, one can say life's nothing more than a giant onion. With every experience, you gradually peel it crying from either happiness or sorrow, but helplessly unable to stop. The way you see yourself and the world around you is dependent on what you did and felt a few minutes ago. You cannot get to now without walking the road that led you here from the past. That is why, it is silly to say, "oh, I can't believe I used to worry about those trivialities when I was a kid". Of course I had to, otherwise I wouldn't be here and now, worrying about the current state of things, that I'll probably laugh at and call stupid 10 years from today. I'll say "what an young fool I was... these
are the really important things in life". Heck, why just "worry"? These things that make you happy
today only make you feel this way because of the past.
Sounds like good old common sense, doesn't it? But there's something about it that makes me want to contradict it, to prove it wrong somehow... We can say things are random, life's a string of serendipitous coïncidences, we can't control it, etc, etc. But there's still that unbreakable chain of events. Accidental, trivial things that happen without any relationship to each other, with nothing in common but the mere fact that they all happen to You. EVERYTHING is happening in an ordered yet unpredictable sequence. A living person makes these random events around him fit together and line up in some strange order - the unbreakable chain of experiences that has deep personal meaning embedded and internalized uniquely in your brain. You can't skip ahead of yourself. You can't go backwards or stop. You're on a conveyor belt in a crowed airport, and while you can choose to stand or to walk, to run or to lie down aimlessly, you are always moving forward with every tick of the clock.