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May 25, 2018

Director: Alex Richanbach
Screenplay: Lauryn Kahn
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Vanessa Bayer, Phoebe Robinson, Richard Madden
Runtime: 94 Minutes




It’s hard to figure out exactly what genre Ibiza might qualify as. Ostensibly a girl’s trip movie working as a romantic comedy, but it’s not entirely romantic beyond the central plot hinging on a prospective romance for the central character. There are occasionally funny lines consisting of repetitive dialogue banter amongst its leads, but no real set-pieces or sequences to make the most of its premise. We’re mostly just guided by the dive bar good time of its characters.


Although, the characters themselves are rather thinly sketched and only partially appear to fulfil arcs. Gillian Jacobs’ Harper certainly does, as a majority of it hangs on her better judgements failing her on a work trip to Barcelona with her friends (Vanessa Bayer and Phoebe Robinson), in order to follow hunky DJ Leo West (Richard Madden) to an Ibiza club. Bayer and Robinson’s characters only sort of follow arcs, but they’re both equally shallow.


The closest thing it even has to a story comes from its plot structure, as the trio chase the DJ who may or may not be ‘the one’ of Harper’s dreams and who turns out the be just a socially inept as she can be. Even though the audience is informed of this early on, and it’s a strange way to engineer a dramatic tension that doesn’t entirely work.


So, what does work? Well, the cast certainly has chemistry with good performances. Gillian Jacobs is the standout, but the other two are decent and likeable enough. Even Madden is kind of sweet if bland.


There’s also the energy that it manages to maintain for something so admittedly thin. Even if the direction isn’t great – especially as it descends into a visual mess of endless party scenes in the third act and starts to feel like you’re viewing somebody’s Instagram story – but the club music is kind of infectious. But it’s still odd that this was shot mainly in Croatia as opposed to its actual settings.


Not as wild or fun as its title might suggest, but Ibiza is harmless, it doesn’t linger in the mind but it’s almost tailor made for the Netflix platform of half focused attention and the illusion of narrative engagement – which must count for something, at least.


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