A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island? is a 2019 Spanish drama in which four longtime flatmates make a shocking discovery on their last night living together. Throughout the movie, the four lead characters binge drink -- first in a nightclub and then later when they go back to their apartment. The binge drinking drives the actions and conflicts that emerge after one of the characters asks the titular question of the movie. There's also frequent cigarette smoking. Some marijuana smoking. Characters buy and take pills while at a nightclub. Frequent profanity, including "f--k" and variations. Some nudity -- female breasts, male buttocks. Man shown masturbating in his bedroom, no nudity. Overall, this is a coming-of-age movie that seems a bit lighthearted at first, but then takes a dark turn when repressed feelings and the truth of a clandestine homosexual relationship between two of the characters emerges, leading to screaming matches, insults, and raw expressions of emotion.
What's the story?
On the hottest day in 20 years in Madrid, four flatmates of eight years -- Eze (Pol Monen), Celeste, Marta, and Marcos -- are going to spend their last night together before moving out. Marcos and Marta are a couple who are moving to Oviedo. Eze is moving to London for film school. Celeste is an aspiring actress who has started work at an American fast food chicken chain in order to make ends meet whose life seems to be going off the rails. On their final night, they go to a favorite local nightclub to get drunk, take pills, and dance. After this, they all go back to their flat to have one final hangout over more drinks and laughter. They joke and reminisce, and then Celeste, as a game, asks everyone "WHO WOULD YOU TAKE TO A DESERTED ISLAND?" While they answer, Marta quotes lines from a screenplay Eze has written; she read it on the sly earlier in the day without Eze's permission. This makes Eze livid, but when he doesn't let it go, it becomes obvious that there's something deeper happening. As Eze reveals the secret relationship he has been having with Marco, this news threatens to destroy not only Marco and Marta's relationship, but also the friendships of everyone in the room.
Is it any good?
At first, this comes off as a decent-enough coming-of-age movie about four young adults who have lived and partied together. Something like Trainspotting (sans the heroin) meets The Real World. The characters are more or less familiar archetypes -- brooding writer, remorseful party girl, etc. -- who are clearly on the verge of changing more than just their place of residence. They all go out together for one last night of nightclubbing, boozing, and drug taking. It all seems familiar and safely within the purview of countless indie movies. But then, around the halfway point, the movie shifts into a dramatic turn -- explosive, uncomfortable, and thoroughly engaging -- and the expected becomes unexpected, intense, and gripping.
The movie is based on a play, and as it moves into the second half, it's easy to see the play's roots as the story relies on the incredible acting of the four lead characters. With less-skilled actors, Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island? could easily come off as mawkish and overblown, but the overall effect is like a tornado ripped through the apartment of the four lead characters, and the immediate aftermath is shocking in how everything seems to fall apart so quickly. And yet, unlike so many coming-of-age movies that make the dreams and ambitions of the characters into a zero-sum game of either pursuing one's dreams or else compromising with a dead-end job to make ends meet, the denouement offers a ray of hope that there is, in fact, a possibility for creative life after adulthood.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about coming-of-age movies. How does Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island? compare to other coming-of-age movies you've seen?
This movie was based on a play. What would be the challenges in adapting a movie into a play?
How is the title of the movie the catalyst of the story? How does the tone of the movie change after the four flatmates play along and answer this question?
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