There’s certainly an argument to be had over the use of slow-burn story-telling to make a picture even more effective at beguiling its audience. However when a film comes in at under ninety minutes long, it begs to question whether this is a tool to fill time to cover-up its painfully dull plot which only just starts to heat up before its life is abruptly ended. That’s what happens here in Ana Asensio’s Most Beautiful Island, a story solely focused on one woman’s plight to drag herself off the poverty line sees her spiraling into a dark situation just to be able to pay her rent.

Asensio has not only written and directed the piece in which is set in a mere 24 hours; she stars in the lead as the icy Luciana, A Spanish Immigrant seeking a better life in New York. Far from her Spanish home in which she left behind a mysterious event, she flits between jobs of handing out leaflets dressed in a chicken outfit to an unreliable babysitter to two unpleasant children who run rings around her, blackmailing for her failure to pick them up from school on time. Scrapping by on a pittance she still finds herself short of being able to pay her rent, but that doesn’t stop her from nonchalantly helping herself to what food there is in the cupboards which are clearly marked, do not touch.

What Ascensio fails to build in Luciana is someone the audience can care about, the woman is completely devoid of likability, and yes she may be going through a tough time, but her pushy demeanour begins to grate through the lifeless dialogue like nails being dragged down a board. An air of self-entitlement rings out as she ungratefully relies on hand-outs from strangers; it’s a good sixty minutes of the relentless poverty bashing with a lack of compassion and the one-dimensional script that make up the plot acting more like an insomnia cure than beautifully engaging cinematic art.

most beautiful island

But a glimmer of light does try to break through the tedious cracks when Luciana’s fellow immigrant friend and fellow Chicken mascot Olga (Natasha Romanova) gets her into a very lucrative one-off job that evening at a top secret, shady party. The warning bell’s start ringing amongst the viewer’s ears, but Luciana seems fairly oblivious that she maybe embarking on anything untoward. The fact she is given hardly information about ‘The Party’ and her journey to one location she was given was, in fact, a detour to the real destination triggers no questions in her mind. In the overly played out scene that lasts an age and then some, she is instructed to get rid of her bag before she reaches the party, subsequently she empties the contents and then the bag into a random New York street bin in which we are lead to believe that every single item is still there when she comes back.

The intriguingly dark conclusion gets the job done in building up the anticipation as a group of beautiful young women are instructed to stand in silence in a disused warehouse waiting for their turn to be summoned to the other side of the door to join the elite party goers, but what is behind the door? Is it something seedy and degrading? Not even Luciana finds that out until her time comes but just as this story starts bubbling with this playfully murky part of the plot, its ending is abruptly cut short.

Ascensio hasn’t been ambition enough with the small budget she had to play with, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of creativity, vision or life this pointless picture presents. Just as it gets its final sting in the tail, it abruptly kills off any hope that what you endure to get to the point of a decent story was worth the wait.

Most Beautiful Island is out December 1st

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Most Beautiful Island
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Features and News Writer at HeyUGuys, Once failed wannabe actress, Ex-music industry veteran who once dabbled in Artist Management, and now Film Journalist extraordinaire. My love for the arts has seen my fingers in many pies but my love of Film won the battle. Current work credits include Film Journalist/Writer at HeyUGuys, Film Editor at Flavourmag, London Live's London Film Club and DIY Magazine. Previous work credits contributor at The Voice Newspaper, FlickFeast, MyFilmClub and film review slot on radio.