Directed, written, and produced by the film’s star Ana Asensio, Most Beautiful Island is a confident and innovative feature film debut. Following the film’s protagonist Luciana, an undocumented immigrant whose original country we never know, Asensio guides us through her character’s quest for survival.
For all of the uncomfortable mind-inducing suspense the film’s last half hour bring, Most Beautiful Island begins somewhat unexpectedly. The bright room in which Ana’s character wakes up is the direct juxtaposition of the colours audiences have come to expect from typical horror and thriller films. There are no night time skies or creeping, voyeuristic shots during this film’s first two acts.
Instead, we follow Luciana as she dresses up as a chicken to promote a fast food restaurant, deals with her passive-aggressive roommate, struggles to care for two spoilt children, and as she walks, in heels, to a foreign place in an already unfamiliar New York City. Asensio uses each of these episodes to emphasise the lengths to which her character will go to survive, as well as showing life in the city through an immigrant’s eyes.
The film in no way presents Luciana as an outsider to New York City; she knows the streets and language well. Instead, there’s a constant, pervading force that poses a threat to her survival. What this force is, Asensio leaves to the viewer to decide, but in the U.S.’s current political climate it isn’t hard to imagine.
Every creeping bug, sketchy building, and job request build up to the intensity of the film’s final act. What Asensio achieves in her feature film debut is a reaction most directors fail to create in their entire career. With Most Beautiful Island, Asensio has created a film that makes the viewer question the darkness of their own mind, whilst shining a light on the difficulties immigrants face.
CAST: Ana Asensio, Natasha Romanova, David Little, Nicholas Tucci, Larry Fessenden, Caprice Benedetti
DIRECTOR: Ana Asensio
WRITER: Ana Asensio
SYNOPSIS: A deeply chilling and psychological exploration of the horrors of being an undocumented young woman in a foreign city.