Granada Nights tells the story of Ben, a British-Pakistani tourist who arrives in Spain to surprise his girlfriend, only to be met with a blunt breakup over the phone. Stuck in Granada and surrounded by strangers, he has to move on from his ex and find himself in the process.
This is a stylish flick, combining traditional landscape camerawork with vertical shots to create a multi-faceted visual landscape, representing Granada as a home and a tourist destination at once. The cast also all put in decent performances, working with the script they’ve been given to the best of their ability. Antonio Akeel puts in a decent showing as Ben – a little stiff, perhaps, but in a way that works well with his “fish out of water” character and gels well with the supporting cast.
Unfortunately, where the work really suffers is in its writing. Something that is noticeable from the very beginning of the film is that nobody talks like a normal human being – very line of dialogue feels very deliberately constructed and too polished to feel natural at all, which does a massive disservice to the coming-of-age story at the core of the picture and makes it very difficult to form an emotional connection to any of the characters. Ben is clearly supposed to be the audience surrogate, the relatable everyman, but he comes off as unpleasant and possessive through his dialogue. This in and of itself would not be a bad thing if it was addressed by the story, but it’s simply ignored until it’s time for the happy ending.
Characters also rarely have arcs as much as they broadly explain their personal stories and character motivations at each other for long periods of time, mixed in with very basic but lengthy mediations on topics like capitalism and colonialism that completely stop the momentum of the feature, such that it is, dead in its tracks. The general tone of the movie is very self-congratulatory, but between the socio-political nothingburgers and the unnatural dialogue there is very little of substance to congratulate.
Overall, Granada Nights has a lot of ambition behind it and visually it does a fantastic job of representing Spain’s culture and aesthetics. However, the writing really lets the film down, which is a shame; you can see the touching blossoming story it desperately wants to be, but the script really needed a second pass to get there.
Granada Nights is released digitally on demand on 18th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for Granada Nights here: