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Film review: Spanish Affair is an easy, breezy Romeo and Juliet

Can love overcome cross-border tensions in this romantic comedy?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 2:00pm

In cross-cultural relationships, families and friends can let their own prejudices get in the way of romantic endeavours. Spanish Affair pits the Andalusians against the Basques when Rafa (Dani Rovira), a stand-up comic from Seville, falls for feisty country girl Amaia (Clara Lago). Venturing into Basque country for the very first time, Rafa must keep up the charade that he is a local, rather than a vile city dweller, especially in front of Amaia’s fiercely traditional father (Karra Elejalde).

This is classic Romeo & Juliet stuff, featuring a light-hearted tone and charismatic leads that make it an easy, breezy watch. Unfortunately, the subtitles can only scratch the surface of the entrenched colloquial humour and subtle linguistic differences that are a key strength of the film.

Many laughs come from Rafa’s abominable Basque accent that he is forced to keep up throughout his time in Amaia’s village, which non-native speakers will struggle to recognise. However, the regional idiosyncrasies highlighted throughout also provide many amusing moments that transcend the language barrier - not least the assumption from Rafa and his fellow Sevillians that all Basques are terrorists.

Love does ultimately conquer all, and audiences looking for a life-affirming romantic sojourn that doesn’t pull its punches should be satisfied. Strong support from screen veteran Karra Elejalde, and a hilarious turn by Carmen Machi as a fellow Andalusian who poses as Rafa’s mum, only add to the fun.

Spanish Affair opens on December 10