Marshland (La isla mínima)


Marshland (La isla mínima)

Critics Consensus

As narratively taut as it is richly atmospheric, Marshland keeps viewers guessing throughout a procedural thriller with surprising nuance.



Total Count: 36


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,080
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Movie Info

The Spanish deep South, 1980. A series of brutal murders of adolescent girls in a remote and forgotten town bring together two disparate characters - both detectives in the homicide division - to investigate the cases. With deep divisions in their ideology, detectives Juan and Pedro must put aside their differences if they are to successfully hunt down a killer who for years has terrorized a community in the shadow of a general disregard for women rooted in a misogynistic past.


Critic Reviews for Marshland (La isla mínima)

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (3)

  • Marshland has superb performances and a heady atmosphere, but its greatest strength is finding resolution while letting the mystery be.

    Sep 25, 2015 | Full Review…
  • The elegant widescreen compositions and use of light and shadows are strongly reminiscent of Seven and Zodiac, and the film's eerie, disconcerting mood brings to mind HBO's True Detective.

    Aug 20, 2015 | Rating: 3/4
  • Visually and atmospherically, Marshland is suffused with an eerie oppressiveness, entirely at odds with the region's reputation for light-hearted alegria.

    Aug 13, 2015 | Full Review…
  • A couple of mismatched cops in the immediate post-Franco era investigate the brutal murders of two teenage girls in Alberto Rodriguez's satisfyingly atmospheric neo-noir.

    Aug 13, 2015 | Full Review…

    Jay Weissberg

    Top Critic
  • How far you enjoy Marshland will depend on your enthusiasm for the ritual of genre -- and, in particular, for the type of story where violence against women is mainly an excuse to probe the troubled souls of men.

    Aug 13, 2015 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Allegory washes up against mystery in this superb period piece.

    Aug 7, 2015 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Marshland (La isla mínima)

  • Nov 20, 2017
    In 2014, just before he won a leading Actor Oscar, Matthew McConnaughey was at the height of one of the biggest career turnarounds. It was a time that became gleefully known as the "McConnaisance" and one of the major projects that he was involved in was HBO's television series, True Detective. It's a surprise then that more people didn't pay attention to Alberto Rodriguez's Spanish thriller, Marshland. That said, it was a huge hit in its native Spain and while it made a brief arrival on the film circuit with many critics lavishing praise on it, it still seemed to disappear fairly quickly. It's a shame as this is a dark, murder mystery that's thoroughly deserving of a wider audience and shares many similarities with the aforementioned TV show. Plot: In 1980, in the marshlands of the Spanish deep South, Homocide Detectives Juan (Javier Gutiérrez) and Pedro (Raúl Alévaro) are brought together to investigate a series of brutal murders of adolescent girls in a remote part of the country. They are led onto the path of a serial killer who for years has terrorized a community in the shadow of a general disregard for women deeply rooted in a past of misogyny. Alberto Rodriguez's Marshland plays out like many American serial killer thrillers. As mentioned, it shares many similarities in its structure and tone to that of the widely acclaimed True Detective. It has the same deliberate pace; the same downbeat tone and the same mismatched, psychologically tormented detectives that put aside their differences in order to do their job. What benefits Marshland greatly, are the two excellent central performances from Javier Gutiérrez and Raúl Alévaro whose very different ideologies lead to a suspicion of each other which lends the film another level of intrigue where, as a viewer, you're left constantly wondering what the next piece of the puzzle will reveal. Despite the intrigue, however, there's a simplicity to the film that's deceptive - such is the attention and focus on mood and composition. This is a very meditative police procedural that spends as much time exploring its setting as it does the characters. Set in 1980, Rodriguez isn't afraid to explore a sociopolitical theme and blur the lines between fascism and liberalism. This is a huge undercurrent between our two detectives and how they conduct their investigation in a post-Franco society where the fear and paranoia that Franco created still permeates the country, long after his death. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Alex Catalán there's much to admire on visual level as well with some stunning overhead shots of the Spanish landscape and the sun-bleached rural region lends the film a desaturated look that's not unlike something that David Fincher would pull together. At 1 hour 44 mins, the film is certainly not overlong but it does feel longer than it is. Don't get wrong, though, this isn't a criticism. It's only to point out that there's a dense and meticulous attention to detail that makes for a very rewarding mystery. It's in no rush to reveal anything and it's moody, brooding atmosphere is captured expertly. My criticisms of this film are minor but there is one that shares the same issue I had with True Detective; I wasn't entirely convinced by the reveal. It's one of those whodunnits where it's nigh on impossible to work out for yourself. There's simply not enough clues that pertain to a particular person which left me a little frustrated. That said, this mystery is more about the journey than the destination and on that note it's hugely effective. For anyone that's a fan of the serial-killer sub-genre and it's worthy inclusions like True Detective, Se7en or Zodiac then Marshland will not disappoint. It's abundant with style and atmosphere and another one of those European films where your left feeling satisfied with the commitment you've afforded it. Mark Walker
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 27, 2016
    One of those movies that won't be appreciated enough only by few exceptional viewers!!
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Aug 12, 2016
    Strongly inspired by Memories of Murder and sharing many elements in common with that masterpiece, this is an exceptional crime thriller about how evil survives in a broken post-fascist society even if people want to convince themselves that past sins can be simply forgotten.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 26, 2016
    Two different-as-different-could-be detectives are sent out in the boonies of Spain where two teenage girls have gone missing. While everyone wants the case solved, they're also kinda hostile to the outsiders, kinda sensitive to any interruption of the local illegal business and very protective of their own = a tough nut to crack. Atmospheric as all get out and filled with plenty of twists and turns, you'll be slowly drawn into this mire of small town protectionism where the girls seem curiously blamed for their own disappearance, well anchored by the leads, one a police dog, the other a pit bull. This one's a keeper.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer

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