Emilio Martínez Lázaro’s recent box-office hit “Ocho apellidos vascos” [Eng. Title: Spanish Affairs] is a fish-out-of-water romantic comedy that draws on but discredits some widely held prejudices between Andalusian and Basque people, against each other.
The film begins with Basque girl Amaia (Clara Lago) getting drunk at her hen night party in a flamenco bar in Seville – she’d after all just been dumped by her fiancé. She picks a fight with barman Rafa (Dani Rovira) after hearing him crack unsavoury jokes about the Basque people. He promptly throws her out – much to her chagrin, but they’ll soon end up in bed together, and also pass out.
Amaia slips away after waking up, but Rafa had by then fallen in love with her already. She’d forgotten her purse, whose return Rafa will use as an excuse to go all the way to País Vasco, and hopefully convince her of his love. Not bad for a Sevillano who’d never left his home province once!
His visit will coincide with Amaia’s reunion with her long-disappeared fisherman-father Koldo (Karra Elejalde). Catching wind of her impending marriage, Koldo wants to reconnect with his daughter, and do the father-thing by personally evaluating his future son in law. Amaia, not wanting to disappoint dad by declaring that her wedding had been cancelled, persuades Rafa to pretend to be her Basque fiancé for the duration of her father’s stay. That’s when the comedy takes off.
But this is also where those not well acquainted with Spanish culture and/or purely relying on subtitles might loose out – even as a seasoned visitor to Spain, some of the nuances peculiar to Spanish people escaped me. More often than not, I just about managed to capture the gist, thanks to fine interpretations by Karra Elejalde and the ever-so-delightful Clara Lago.
There’s also a cameo appearance from the pop-duo Los del Río (of the famous 90’s hit-single Macarena, if you’re old enough to remember), and the film even has a clichéd Hollywood-style ending. Granted – it is after all a comedy, and its main purpose is predominantly entertainment, but I also think it is charming and doesn’t set out to insult people’s intelligence that much – and henceforth, Recommended Viewing..!
The Nudity: Clara Lago
The film only contains brief nudity – two instances where they may have also been editorial mistakes. The director isn’t particularly renowned for featuring nudity in his films, even if some of his scenes are erotically charged. They will however appeal to those who love a bit of ‘traditional’ romance, and of course, the growing number of Clara Lago fans.