Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island? likely wouldn’t have been made without Netflix, according to producer Beatriz Bodegas. The modest, indie-styled Spanish drama is a prime example of the streaming service’s investment in international releases, many of which seem to fly under the radar in the U.S. Deserted Island is based on a popular Spanish play by Jota Linares, who also directs this
The Gist: It’s sweltering in Madrid. Marcos (Jaime Lorente) and Marta (Maria Pedraza) fail to consummate his last day in the city before moving to Oviendo. Laying in bed, sweaty and nude and physically unsatisfied, they converse about their plans: he’ll start his medical residency, and she’ll teach ballet. Must just be stress, right?
Meanwhile, Celeste (Andrea Ros) wakes up in a strange bed, and calls Eze (Pol Monen) for a ride back to the rent-controlled apartment they’ve shared with Marcos for eight years. Celeste is a struggling actress contemplating a job at a crappy American fried-chicken fast-food chain; Eze is leaving for London, where he’ll study filmmaking. Eze and Marcos have been best friends for many years. Marta is the unofficial fourth roommate who stumbles across Eze’s secret screenplay, and impudently reads it.
They’re 20-whatevers on the cusp of major life changes, so their final night together demands a night at the dance club, washing down a pill or two with gross, syrupy shots. Of course, things go to hell in the wee hours, after they get home. Celeste proposes a playful game of Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island, in which everyone must choose two of the three present personalities to accompany them in the hypothetical premise. Shouting BAD IDEA! at the screen doesn’t help: before you know it, the tight-knit friends are saying awful things to each other, and long-entombed secrets emerge like so many yucky worms after a heavy rain.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: The movie is a rough update of Reality Bites, but more, you know, millennial. And stagey — the dialogue is contrived to give every character a big, emotional speech.
Performance Worth Watching: Of the four principals, Pedraza’s screen presence is the most naturally charismatic. It no doubt helps that her character isn’t quite as angst-ridden as the rest.
Memorable Dialogue: When Celeste recites the title of the movie, drink!
Single Best Shot: On the apartment building rooftop, Eze sits on the wrong side of the railing, drink in hand, contemplating life, with the amber lights of post-midnight Madrid as the backdrop.
Sex and Skin: The record heat of the Madrid morning is apparently an excuse to show lots of Marcos and Marta in the movie’s first act.