Title: Most Beautiful Island
Director: Ana Asensio
Cast: Ana Asensio, Natasha Romanova, David Little, David Little, Nicholas Tucci, Larry Fessenden, Larry Fessenden, Caprice Benedetti, Anna Myrha.
Written, directed and played by Ana Asensio, ‘Most Beautiful Island,’ is an eerie tale about an undocumented young woman’s struggle for survival in the Big Apple. Luciana is from Spain and she juggles multiple jobs to stay afloat in the expensive and merciless New York. To make ends meet she is swamped into a thrilling game, that will be physically and emotionally trying.
Ana Asensio decided to shoot with a voyeuristic sensibility on Super16mm film, as she embodies with grace and insight the woman’s tortured past and troublesome present. The psychological thriller, does not completely take flight once the mystery is unveiled, and yet what saves the narrative is the way Luciana epitomizes the delusions of European immigrants in regards to the American Dream.
The rawness of the character’s downfall is palpable: we breathe Luciana’s anxiety and vulnerability. Asensio’s Stanislavski-esque acting method and Neorealistic directing approach is evident, since she mixed professional actors with non-actors in improvised and fluid scenarios where she re-enacted her personal experience in the City. Adding to the sense of authenticity, real spiders were used under skilled supervision so that the actors had to confront their own fears about the arachnids.
New York City is the bewitching villain of the story, ever so imminent with its hustle and bustle, enchanting polluted mist and promise of fortunate renewals. Cinematographer Noah Greenberg, contributes to providing the mystical melancholia to the City That Never Sleeps, whilst we observe Luciana wandering in search of her emancipation and salvation.
The “beautiful” island of Manhattan, which was initially elected as the beacon of new beginnings, will lose its appeal as the story unfolds, to reveal an unwelcoming land where ruthlessness prevails over opportunity.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi