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SXSW Review: ‘Islands’

March 20, 2021Ben MK

If you were raised in a traditional household, the pressure to move out and start a family of your own is something that's always there, especially as you age into your twenties. But what if you're unmarried, approaching 50 and still living at home — and you don't even have the career to show for it?

A painfully shy man who spends his days working as a janitor at the local university, Joshua (Rogelio Balagtas) knows the feeling all too well. But when his mom Alma (Vangie Alcasid) suddenly passes away and he decides to quit his job to become the primary caregiver for his dad Reynaldo (Esteban Comilang), Joshua begins to rethink his decision. Thankfully, his cousin Marisol (Sheila Lotuaco), who has come from abroad to attend the funeral, offers to lend him and his younger brother Paolo (Pablo S. Quiogue) a hand. The only problem is that, as Joshua and Marisol begin spending more and more time together, he soon finds himself experiencing feelings for her.

Islands may start and end like a quirky indie comedy, but make no mistake, writer-director Martin Edralin's feature debut is as poignantly acted as they come. An exploration of the intersection between one's culture, one's sense of familial duty, and one's personal desires, the result shows that no man can be an island unto himself.

Islands screens under the Narrative Feature Competition section at the 2021 South by Southwest Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 34 min.

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