Tribeca 2023: Hugo Ruiz’s ‘One Night With Adela’

There are situations, maybe most situations, where a single-shot, single-take approach in a film may feel like a gimmick. But in Hugo Ruiz’s gripping thriller One Night With Adela, the director uses the technique to slowly reveal things in the background of Adela’s perspective to expertly build and maintain tension. 

It’s a typical night in Madrid, and street sweeper Adela (Laura Galan) has had enough. Over the course of the evening, she brutally carves a path of drug-fueled destruction through the streets, culminating in a climax that piles disturbing reveal upon disturbing reveal. Ruiz never cuts away from the mayhem, and there’s no reprieve from it until Adela permits. One Night With Adela is not a gory film by any means, but as it plays out, with Adela calling, multiple times, into a radio show and detailing her disturbing plans, it is thrilling. 

Between One Night With Adela and last year’s Piggy, Laura Galan is quickly cementing herself as one of the most talented actors to come out of Spain in recent memory. Being the main focus of a movie like One Night With Adela is a lot of pressure on an actor, and Galan rises remarkably to the occasion. She is every bit as cold and methodical and matter-of-fact in her madness as Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman in American Psycho (2000).

A film like One Night With Adela that doesn’t use its main conceit – its single-take approach – as a crutch is a remarkable one. It doesn’t feel ostentatious and even in places where it could use over-the-top violence or gore, it settles into a gritty and realistic portrayal. It’s that kind of restraint, along with Galan’s outstanding performance, that would entice me to spend one more night with Adela.

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