Most Beautiful Island DVD Review

At a 77 minute runtime, this unbalanced nightmare is one not to miss. Luciana (Asensio) is an undocumented immigrant living in New York. She strives to get at least a meal a day and keep the flat she jointly rents with her friend. When she is offered a chance to help out a friend and work at a party she is not sure. However when it is explained that this will pay her $2000 for 2 hours work, she jumps at the chance. The problem is that money like that, isn’t just given out for nothing…

The blurb behind Most Beautiful Island press campaign, stands the film on an uneven footing…written, directed and starring Ana Asensio (an actress) who shot it on 16mm (cheap) and then Premiered it at LFF… well then. It makes it sound like either it is an undiscovered gem or a film that met the quota allocation for the circuits. These are both not negatives but do reflect how LFF has to balance quality with business clarity. The vetting process for the LFF is strict and nuanced but can lead to jarring pieces of crap being given the leg up over better works. However this film won awards some might say, that means it must be good?

Do not fear. Yes it would seem that thankfully a better than average film has been given a much deserved leg up and award recognition. Director Ana Asensio has crafted a thriller which deftly sets out to defy convention, subvert genre and unsettle the viewer all at the same time. Much of this is achieved by stripping down physically and psychological elements of film to deliver something both unexpected and frankly, ambitious. The time frame is great, at 7o odd minutes. The use of 16mm not only saved money on budget (although digital would have been cheaper), it has the added bonus of familiarising the images and making the events feel televisual. Morphing the viewer into a home experience and making the viewing at home more extreme. Why this is essential comes from the familiarity we have with television genre expectation and how this also makes the image more mundane but also add bite.

The film is rated 18. This observation is justified as a jumping off point as most horror fans expectation is gore, blood soaking or spraying. This rating comes from the films deeply uncomfortable moments. An example is the physically intense nerve shredding finale.

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