The feature debut of writer and director Hugo Ruiz, One Night with Adela invites audiences to sit shotgun with its title protagonist and discover just what happens when the weight of the world finally crushes down on someone and pushes them past the brink.
A street cleaner assigned to the night shifts, Adela (Laura Galan, Piggy) has lived a live full of trauma, having spent most of it being talked down to because of her weight, struggling with a drug and alcohol habit, and losing everything thanks to someone she dated when she was younger.
However, one night after her shift ends, Adela finds herself snapping in a way she can’t bounce back from. However, instead of feeling regret and remorse for allowing her emotions to get the best of her, she instead embraces her rage and invites the desire for revenge to pulse through her veins.
Taking a few hits of a joint laced with molly, marijuana, and blow and snorting enough cocaine to kill a mule, Adela sets off into the night to embark on a relentless path of vengeance – all while calling into a live radio station to broadcast her intent to mercilessly hurt someone.
With its entire 100-minute run-time captured in single, long take, One Night in Adela is a film that plays heavily into the concept of the ‘sequence shot’.
While this stylistic choice is mostly to the film’s benefit, as it makes the audience feel like they’re riding right alongside Adela throughout her entire adventure, there are times when the sequence shot aspect doesn’t entirely work. The opening of the film may be both jaw-dropping and horrifically mesmerizing, but it then proceeds to be a bit of a slow burn until the final act.
For example, as Adela is a chain smoker, there are countless moments throughout the film where she lights up a cigarette and just silently wanders around an empty street. While these scenes do wonders in terms of putting the audience in Adela’s mindset, they also feel directionless, like the film is vamping for time until it can figure out where it wants to go next.
Of course, the film is nothing without Galan’s performance. As Adela, Galan wears a scowl on her face so striking and a burrow in her brow so deep that even drug and alcohol are incapable of taking the edge off of them.
Further, her unusual body language (such as her constant sniffling), loud grunting, and insistence on screaming everything she has to say expertly relay just how exasperated and fed up her character is feeling.
And it is this enraged demeanor of its central character that truly pushes One Night with Adela into the ‘captivatingly uncertain’ territory.
As mentioned above, the majority of the film involves Adela calling in to a radio station and declaring that she’s out to hurt somebody and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop her.
Thanks to Galan’s performance, you know Adela is going to do something awful, but you’re never quite sure what.
In the end, Ruiz lets everything ride on the looming but unknown danger Adela represents. Every stop and irate patrol off into the darkness Adela makes leaves you wondering if this will be the moment she finally – and literally – murders every person she comes across.
Ultimately, the direction film does go in, though briefly hinted at by a brief recollection of Adela’s past and a single throw away line of dialogue, is totally unexpected. Suffice to say, One Night with Adela ends in a shocking finale that undeniably changes Adela’s life forever.
However, though the film is riveting in the sense that you want to see just how far Adela will go in her ‘venting’, her quasi-rampage is also a bit unrealistic in its portrayal.
Despite regularly informing the radio station of her plans and committing several crimes throughout the night, Adela faces no pushback or consequences whatsoever.
And though the film’s last reveal during its insane finale is a masterpiece of chaotic cruelty, the fact that it goes unnoticed by the public despite it taking place in the middle of the night-slash-early morning in a major metropolitan city which just saw a number of people out and about interacting with Adela leaves the entire thing feeling a bit bizarre.
The intrigue of its story communicated with ease thanks to its overwhelmingly ambitious one-take filming style, One Night with Adela may not always work in its execution, but as far as unique cinematography, gripping storylines, and memorable performances go – in particular Galan’s violent but scarily determined outburst of exploding rage – the film delivers its own brand of fury-infused perfection.
- Laura Galan's outstanding performance
- Its one-take shooting method is as ambitious as it is creative
- The film's story is simple but takes some absolutely wild turns.
- At times, Adela seems like she has nothing to do
- Spain is unrealistically empty at night