La Isla Mínima (Marshland) (2014)

The opening overhead shots of Marshland are absolutely stunning, they show Andalucia so pristine, clear and calm but also full of mazes, little do we know what the marshes hide, in fact at certain points the shape of the marshes look like a brain, complex and mysterious.

Marshland is set in 1980 Spain, it follows a pair of mismatched detectives who are on the hunt for a killer who is brutally murdering young girls in the area.

On paper this is your average thriller film, but, there is something more to this, something more than meets the eye, it has a haunting quality to it. The two detectives Juan (Javier Gutiérrez) and Pedro (Raúl Arévalo) are quite different, Juan is probably the most intriguing one, he has a brooding simmering quality to him, he has something his background that he seems to be hiding. Pedro is more straightforward, he is doing the job so he can support his family, but at what cost and how far will he go to do this?

The subplot between the two and their relationship is good, but it looks like it could have been developed further, there is an element of distrust between the two, more from Pedro towards Juan, as Juan is a bit of a mystery – although he is social and expressive he is also very tough and aggressive, he uses force to get results, something which Pedro does not like, it is something Spain is trying to eliminate after Franco, as Spain aims to become a democracy.

As the case progresses Pedro learns more about Juan’s past, he is told that Juan killed a protestor, which Juan denies. We also learn Juan is dying – he is passing blood in his urine, there is a really spectacular scene when a Kingfisher appears in his room which he sees before collapsing, the Kingfisher then flys in circles before settling on a chair, quite brilliant.

The film has superb cinematography, it is quite amazing the way the marshes are captured including every detail. The car chase scene is very good and tense. The limited use of music adds to the atmosphere, I felt I had to really concentrate which is a good thing, especially for someone who grew up with the MTV generation.

The case the detectives are investigating is quite brutal. In a small rural town young girls are being murdered and no one knows anything, the young Quini (the distracting and rather annoyingly beautiful Jesús Castro) is someone who knows what is going on, but is he part of it or not.

If you enjoyed True Detective then you will love this film, it is haunting, dark, gripping and slick. It deserves a second viewing, which is what I am about to do.

Rating 4/5


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