The premise of Granada Nights heralds a Linklater-like Europhilic jaunt through the titular city, yet it’s quickly apparent that the dialogue isn’t up to Jesse and Celine standards. Before protagonist Ben (Antonio Aakeel) even steps onto Spanish soil the screenplay is packing in pat attitudes about travelling. As he gets to know fellow lone traveller Amelia (Quintessa Swindell), dialogue feels over-rehearsed and devoid of convincing emotion.

Visually, there’s a little more beneath the surface. Granada Nights opens in an Instagram-friendly 1:1 ratio. This adds to the sense that the film is cannily being released just as middle-class Brits are at their most travel-starved, and therefore primed to lap up the tourist’s-eye-view imagery. The claustrophobic framing also echoes Ben’s entrapment in a reality he neither planned for nor anticipated. As the narrative progresses and his new life abroad opens up, so does the aspect ratio – eventually growing to widescreen. While hardly an original technique it’s deployed effectively here.

Most of the friends Ben meets are outlines rather than characters and his arc is a pretty familiar one. Still, his expat exploits make for infectious fun and the film hits its stride as he does. Granada, though, is rarely more than a backdrop for a string of parties and nights out – this story could have been set in any picturesque student-filled European city. In contrast to last year’s Monsoon, the location has little connection to the protagonist’s emotional journey. One exception is Ben’s touching meeting with Bilal, a native Pakistani with whom he unearths common ground.

Granada Nights is elegantly produced and makes for a gentle, undemanding watch. Ben’s absorption in the Erasmus student world lands bitterly in our post-Brexit context, and Abid Khan’s narrow focus and uncritical approach leave a lot of privilege unexamined. If only he’d set his sights higher.



CAST: Antonio Aakeel, Óscar Casas, Quintessa Swindell, Virgile Bramly, Tábata Cerezo, Julius Fleischanderl, Laura Frederico, Alice Sanders


WRITERS: Abid Khan, Alba Moyano

SYNOPSIS: In Granada, Spain a British tourist struggles with a broken heart as he befriends a group of young foreigners and crashes into the heart of the international student scene.