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In many ways this brought to mind 'True Detective' which was made at around the same time (Season 1) and that is where the film is at it's strongest. When it's looking at the two detectives, their relationship and their pasts. The problems for me were at just under 2hrs you feel throughout like it's been really cut down in length. It's difficult to follow the investigative procedural at times and a lot of ideas such as the Franco backstory seem interesting but never fully fleshed out.
A wonderfully executed plot, Marshland stays with you even after you leave the cinemas..
Suspenseful neo-noir detective story.
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.
- Miami Herald
Synkkä 80-luvulle sijoittuva espanjalaisjännäri jossa historiantunetumus Francon ajasta olisi ehkä auttanut pääsemään vielä paremmin sisälle juoneen ja hahmoihin. ***+ /5
Buena historia y trama, ademas que nos deja con un final con muchas dudas.
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.
Great visual sense. Great acting. Love the sideburns. Pretty depressing story line...too bad can't make a thriller without murders. Plot has lots of loose ends...could of been better developed. Ending really packs a punch.
In 1980, Madrid homicide detectives Pedro Suarez (Raúl Arévalo) and Juan Robles (Javier Gutiérrez) are sent to a forgotten town on the Guadalquivir Marshes to investigate the disappearance of two teenage sisters during the town's festivities. Pedro, openly critical of Spain's past during Franco's reign, faces problems with authority figures, while Juan cares not, though he has a troubled past of his own. The detectives meet with the girls' (Carmen and Estrella) father, Antonio, a local river boat driver. Although Antonio and his wife Rocío say their daughters were average girls, the duo learn from their friends that they had a deep urge to leave the town. Rocío also gives the detectives a burnt film reel she's found, depicting the girls naked and in bed with a man whose face is obscured by a flash. Soon enough as well, both Carmen and Estrella are found dumped in the local marsh, having been raped and tortured to death. Troubled and with no leads, the two attempt to spy on Quini, the handsome and suave former boyfriend of Carmen. Quini, now dating another town girl Marina, is able to sneak up on the detectives after they've followed him and attempts to threaten them with a knife. After disarming and sending him away, the two agree that Quini must be a part of whatever is occurring. The problem is confirmed to be even bigger after a drunk man named Castro confronts the detectives with a similar case; his girlfriend, Beatriz, was close to Quini and the sisters, and was found dismembered with her suitcase along the marshes. Pedro and Juan continue to investigate and come upon unraveled secrets...
Critics have hailed "Marshland" (La isla mínima) as one of the best Spanish films of 2014, and have defined it as a suffocating cop thriller with a subtle sociopolitical subplot. They have also pointed out reminiscences of American series "True Detective" in the star power of the main actors and the environment of the film, although the film began to be recorded before the series's release. Aerial photographs at the beginning of the film and others that you can see over it, were digitalized by Israel Millan from photographs of Hector Garrido. This photographer has published a book, "Armonía fractal de Doñana y las marismas" (Fractal Harmony of Doñana and marshes) which includes some of the images used in the film. The images correspond to various marshes of Andalucia, such as the ones of Coto Doñana and the Salinas de San Fernando in Cádiz.
"Marshland" (La isla mínima) does carry several resemblances with the hailed first season of "True Detective", but with the setting in Spain and the subplot connection to the past in Spanish history and Franco´s regime there´s other intriguing and complex layers that lifts "Marshland" (La isla mínima) to different heights compared to "True Detective". The focus on corrupt authorities and political instability is intriguing and the depth of the main characters are of high standard. The settings, environments, clothes, cars etc in combination with the superb acting by Raúl Arévalo and Javier Gutiérrez and their opposite characters creates a lot of magnificent dynamics in the film. The cinematography is fantastic and I love the aerial scenes that adds so much to the film in the visual perception. "Marshland" (La isla mínima) is a dark, and dynamically paced thriller that remains beautifully ambiguous after the conclusion.
This 2014 Spanish film won a number of awards, but in the end, left me cold. The cinematography is stark and flat and is supposed to reflect the state of Spain after Franco and the lasting effects of his rule. But, cinematography can't make up for a thin and in the end pretentious script. This is the story of two police officers, one of the new era, and the other a Franco-era throw back. They investigate a series of crimes of the killing of (wait for it) young girls. There is a subplot of the politically compromised background of the old school Franco cop, but this is not developed and is just awkwardly dropped into the crime story without integration or real intelligent development. I also objected to the gratuitous half-clothed dead women scenes and also the graphic portrayal of a young woman whose nipples had been cut off. There was no need for this. it could have been said that she had been mutilated, without this needless exploitation of violence against women, which is all too common and in my mind, revolting. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone and was not particularly impressed that it was shown in our normally excellent movie series locally.