Marshland is now showing at the Garden City Cinema in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
Marshland (La isla mínima) is a Spanish sociopolitical thriller set in 1980. It concerns two detectives searching for the killer of two teenage sisters. It becomes clear the killer has struck before, as a number of young women have either gone missing or been found dead in the last few years.
The town the missing girls are from is poor, labourers are on strike for better pay and the upcoming harvest, which the town’s livelihood depends on is at the front of everyone’s mind. The police chief wants the murders solved quickly and quietly so as not to interfere with the harvest which is already proving to be troublesome. All this as well as the country grappling with the transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Pedro Suárez has been paired with Juan Robles, a detective from the old school that Suárez has heard rumours about. Suárez is different, seen as a radical for his honest and unbiased approach and political leanings; the two share an uneasy relationship. The intensity between the two is palpable and as characters they are interesting to watch as they work together to find the killer despite their personal feelings towards each other.
Director Alberto Rodríguez’s film has some definite parallels between this and HBO’s True Detective, minus the overt philosophy. The almost southern gothic world these detectives move in is rife with poverty and misogyny, so it’s no wonder girls are being lured by the promise of work with a view to getting out of town and are willing to do anything to achieve that.
From the opening titles scene alone you know you’re in for some quality viewing. Beautiful aerial shots of the marshlands surrounding the Guadalquivir river that look like brain segments and aerial shots are used again and again,reminding us we are on the outside looking in.
The bleached colour of the film with occasional splashes of saturated red make the film look and feel both stylish and desolate. The score is understated and solem which combined with the aesthetics makes Marshlands an atmospheric and mysterious thriller that’s captivating and keeps you guessing.