Most Beautiful Island ★★★★½

"We make our own luck."

The less you know going into this movie, the better. Most Beautiful Island is one of the boldest debuts of the year, but it's so much more. First introduced by a brilliant visual prologue, the thematic weight is always on our shoulders -- Luciana is fighting to survive in a city of indifference. There are a few people who show her kindness, but at large, she's all alone. It takes quite a while before the genre elements really kick in, but in this first act, the groundwork for what follows is laid so elegantly. Luciana makes her own choices, but her agency is limited. She's at the end of her rope -- how can she say no to such a tempting offer?

My shoulders are still tight from how tense this was. We are simultaneously voyeurs, watching this wild night unfold, and in the mind of Luciana herself, doing the only thing she can to make it through. The complete subversion of expectations here is remarkable. Sophisticated writing, precise direction, and a sympathetic lead performance, all from Asa Asensio, work together to create a deeply unnerving experience. Check this one out if can get your hands on it.

Rating: 84/100

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