Review: One Night with Adela
- Hugo Ruiz’s feature debut is a brutal revenge movie starring Laura Galán, who will blow your mind with her antisocial behaviour
Laura Galán, the principal victim of that rural, Extremaduran (and extreme), fateful and sun-drenched bloodbath known as Piggy [+see also:
interview: Carlota Pereda
film profile] (a performance that earned her the Goya Award for Best New Actress in 2022), is back living in a permanent state of high tension in her new opus, this time an urban-set, dark, foul-smelling, murky, nocturnal flick titled One Night with Adela [+see also:
interview: Hugo Ruiz
film profile]. It’s the feature debut by Aragonese helmer Hugo Ruiz (the man behind the short films Taxi fuera de servicio, S.O.S. and La cena), which was world-premiered a few days ago at the Tribeca Film Festival, having aptly been picked to screen in the Midnight section.
In the movie, Galán imbues the title character with lashings of rage, fury and resentment. She plays a nighttime street sweeper in a frosty, yellowish and frankly unphotogenic Madrid, who, during the film’s running time, will exact her meticulously calculated revenge on the people who – ruthlessly and selfishly – turned her into human garbage (“a traumatised crackpot”), while also preventing anyone or anything from getting in the way of her mission.
Thus, what initially seems like a new, undiluted version of Taxi Driver railing against sexual abusers in the first half takes an unexpected turn in the second part, leaving the viewer dumbfounded, surprised and flabbergasted, as it lashes out at bad manners, our enslavement to outward social appearances, racism, restrictions on our life imposed by others, and hypocrisy within the family. It’s a proper right hook – brave and with no holds barred – to the most sacred of things, which will please the viewer in search of new (and powerful) emotions in these times steeped in sickly sweetness, insipidness, our addiction to “likes” and political correctness.
Hugo Ruiz – who wrote the screenplay himself – has taken a humungous risk with this brutal feature debut, shooting for three days in a single sequence shot (which, in actual fact, are various shots stitched together and smoothed over, as we’ve seen before in other, bigger-budget titles), in a kind of mobile confessional box (which Paul Schrader will love). Because the main character opens up and lays herself bare to the gobsmacked Gemma Nierga (a presenter famous in Spain for her radio show Hablar por hablar), and all this takes place in scarcely a few settings. The director thus pins all his hopes on an unsettling storyline to the point where it almost gets too much, where there are more demons than angels, and more festering conflicts than happy endings.
Because it’s only when “Toro”, a hit song by Navarrese rock group El Columpio Asesino, starts blaring that we get a hint of something approaching relaxation; the rest is all angst, suspense and claustrophobia. And so, as recommended by Bette Davis in All About Eve, before you see it, “Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy night [with Adela]!”
One Night with Adela is an independent film (which only received institutional backing from Madrid City Council) produced by Muertos de Envidia Company, FTFcam and #ConUnPack, which is also the firm in charge of its sales and distribution. After its screening at Tribeca, the movie will attend other international festivals ahead of its theatrical release in Spain, which is slated for autumn this year.
(Translated from Spanish)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.