Most Beautiful Island Movie Review
Written by Ryan Noble
Released by Bulldog Distribution
Written and directed by Ana Asensio
2017, 80 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Released on 1st December 2017
Ana Asensio as Luciana
Natasha Romanova as Olga
David Little as Doctor Horowitz
Caprice Benedetti as Vanessa
Most Beautiful Island follows Luciana, an illegal immigrant living in America, as she tries to make a living. It doesn't seem to be going well. She is pulled from one low-paying job to another throughout the majority of the film, and, understandably, she cares very little about any of them. However, there's something unlikeable about the way she treats her responsibilities and other people trying to make their own living.
She leaves jobs early, hands off children she's meant to be looking after, and treats her room-mate's belongings like her own – no matter what passive-aggressive notes may be stuck to them. These are all qualities that I struggle to like in a person, and my dislike was passed onto Luciana pretty early on. It does give her a certain strength as she tackles each day in her own way, but this is soon taken away from her when the film becomes the thriller it claims to be all along.
After being asked to take the place of her friend, Olga, at a mysterious, well-paying event that evening, Luciana heads to an address in a black dress and heels as she's instructed. Along the way she is stripped of her belongings, including her phone, and walks into a strange scenario. When she arrives at the address, she is greeted with a line of girls, all dressed in similar attire and looking equally unsure of their role in the evening. This is where the film begins to get interesting.
One by one, the girls are led off to a back room where a crowd of onlookers gather. No-one outside of the room knows what is happening inside it – they only know that there is occasionally applause, screaming, and not every girl comes back out. Those who do are handed an envelope at the door and don't look back.
I won't tell you what happens inside the room, but the tension that is missing from the majority of the film certainly ramps up within these four walls. It also shows another side to Luciana, combining her obvious strength with a compassion that seems to be missing for most of the film, and this makes her slightly more likeable in the process. Honestly, I wish that this had been a bigger part of the narrative, because these scenes provide more of the thrill in thriller and give the protagonist some much-needed growth. It's just a shame there isn't time for more.
Most Beautiful Island isn't the most beautiful film, but it isn't meant to be. It shows off a much less glamorous side to the “American Dream”, and the lengths that people will go to for a better life – or at least more money. Unfortunately, the narrative follows a protagonist that I just didn't find myself rooting for until the final moments, where the only real tension can be found. As a result of all this, it's not an island I'd visit again, but maybe this is more your kind of holiday?