Every now and again, I find myself drawn to films not for any particular artistic or narrative merit, but simply because I’m for an evocation of a mood and place. With an extended European holiday on the horizon, Isla Bonita certainly scratches the itch of idle European tranquillity, set pretty well entirely on the – appropriately beautiful – Spanish island of Menorca.
The film briefly promises romantic frisson, à la A Bigger Splash, with its introduction – a pair of nude lovers (Tim Bettermann, Olivia Declán) reclining on the beach, a documentarian (the director Fernando Colomo) hoping to woo a sculptress (Nuria Román) – before revealing itself to be entirely unconcerned with anything as conventional as ‘plot.’ Isla Bonita – filmed with Colomo’s friends playing themselves thanks to a Coca-Cola sponsorship – is more interested in casual conversation than establishing any serious dramatic stakes.
So, it’s charming, but that’s about it. At times it threatens to skew towards Woody Allen territory, especially when Colomo’s relationship with the young Olivia verges on the romantic, but thankfully it seems more interested in up-ending that traditions of love triangles than offering up a tired May-September pairing. This is, essentailly, a vanity project that’s quickly forgettable – but far from unpleasant.