Starring: Pol Monen, Jaime Lorente, Andrea Ros
Director: Jota Linares
Running Time: 93 mins
Who Would You Take To A Deserted Island? (¿A quién te llevarías a una isla desierta?) is a Spanish film about four friends who unite on the last night in their shared flat, on the eve of big changes in all of their lives.
It’s a premise as old as cinema itself. A group of people get together one day for a long conversation, and truths, emotions and tensions fly as they never have before, as each individual finds an opportunity to release all their feelings in cold frankness. Who Would You Take To A Deserted Island? is certainly one of the more grounded takes on this premise, and with some strong performances, it makes for an engaging watch, yet it really struggles with a screenplay that never allows you to fully get to grips with the emotions, relationships and tensions at play.
First off, though, let’s talk about how this movie is set up. In effect, there are only four characters, and most of the story takes place within their shared flat, as they prepare to move out of the place they have lived together for eight years. Their last night together features a long talk together that slowly devolves into a bitter and brutal argument where they each begin to show how they really feel about each of their relationships, and what they think of one another.
So, it’s a premise that’s very reminiscent of the likes of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, as well as recent films like Perfect Strangers and The Party. As a result, there are a lot of great films out there to compare it to, and while Who Would You Take To A Deserted Island? succeeds in some respects where others don’t, it misses out on the most powerful element of all.
The reason that this film just doesn’t work in such striking fashion can be largely put down to its screenplay. While it impresses with very realistic dialogue that really helps the film from ever becoming too melodramatic, it misses the mark when it comes to actually using that dialogue to get to the bottom of why tensions begin to run high, meaning that the reaction it aims to provoke from you is dulled somewhat.
Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? on the other hand, while incredibly melodramatic, was painfully clear in what it was that was getting everybody riled up over the course of their long, nightmarish evening, and it’s that clarity from the start that allows you to really engross yourself in the conversation, taking sides and judging for yourself, which is where most of the emotional power comes from.
As a result, there just isn’t the genuine intrigue or emotional impact from this film that better ones with the same premise have managed to achieve. It does at least stay very grounded throughout, and for that it deserves a lot of praise, but its screenplay is annoyingly vague and messy, failing to nail down clear reasons for the sudden outbursts of emotion, and instead throwing in a number of distracting and unearned twists towards the finish that only further complicate matters.
All in all, Who Would You Take To A Deserted Island? is an interesting film, and with good performances, grounded emotion and realistic dialogue, there is a lot that it does right. However, its core intention, that of hitting hard with real emotion, is where things go awry, and with a frustrating screenplay that lacks both clarity and consistency, it really misses the mark in the end, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0.