La isla mínima(Marshland)


Set in 1980, it follows two cops, Juan (Javier Gutiérrez) and Pedro (Raúl Arévalo), investigating the disappearance of teenage girls in a remote part of rural Andalusia. While investigating the death and mutilation of two girls found in a swamp, they find out that they are dealing with a serial killer.  Two other girls were murdered in similar ways, on almost the same dates, in both 1978 and 1979.  Juan and Pedro, who have never met until now , don’t like each other.  Pedro has disdain for the older Juan’s boozing, womanizing ways. However, their differences make each encounter with suspects interesting, as we see how each man handles certain situations.  Directed by Alberto Rodriguez, the film was intentionally set in 1980, when the country was reeling from the end of Franco’s undemocratic rule and learning to adapt to a more liberal society. Pedro is more methodical and observant, while Juan is impulsive and prone to using his fists to get answers while questioning the witnesses. Pedro despises Franco’s regime and its legacy, while Juan didn’t seem to care much about that. 

There are a couple of symbol-heavy scenes that include Juan and a bird seemingly staring at each other, one might claim that the bird represents a new era for the country, while Juan is a man tormented by a dark past he can’t escape. The political climate of the region is what separates this film from many murder mystery films. Also worth mentioning is the sublime photography.  The top-down aerial photography is most prevalent during the starting credits of the film. Good performances from Javier Gutiérrez as a tough, arrogant cop abusing the suspects’ civil rights and Raul Arevalo as an ethical Inspector who displays his worried look to everybody. Support cast is pretty good such as Antonio De la Torre , Nerea Barros. The setting is well-structured, as the cars, haircuts and mustaches certainly point to the late 70’s.  This thriller is gripping, well-structured and entertaining throughout.


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