Spanish murder mystery rivets audience
Marshland ( R16)
Directed by Alberto Rodriquez 1hr 45min, Reviewed by Peter Lampp ★★★★
Spain must be turning out some quality cinema if this crime drama couldn’t qualify for their foreign film Academy Awards entry.
It is a convoluted but intense whodunnit, set in the swamplands of Andalucia deep in the heart of Spain in 1980, where everyone seems unhappy, and a serial killer is at large.
Marshland ( La isla minima) is riveting from go to whoa, despite the plot being young girls from a rather bleak village disappearing and being murdered .
The dialogue is rapid-fire Spanish and the sub-titles call for speed-reading – so be alert. Also be ready for thunderclaps in many scenes that almost jolt you out of your seats.
Two brooding, unsmiling homicide detectives, with opposing Spanish political roots, are despatched from Madrid to the marshes to unravel the murderous mayhem.
I could name the actors but they wouldn’t mean much to us.
Juan, though, isn’t shy of clobbering suspects, as he did as a fascist cop during the Franco dictatorship.
His colleague, Pedro, is younger and from the democracy era and they are hardly amigos.
They do need a heavy hand to break through the lies and coverups in a local community that has been terrorised for years.
The plot has almost too many twists and I’m certain I missed a few.
We are spared the horrors the murdered girls have endured, despite the over-the-top R16 classification. Just a few naked corpses. Needless to say many of the seedy inhabitants of the marshes aren’t happy to have the police nosing around and there are scary car chases in Spanish jalopies along dirt dykes with water lapping on each side.
The two cops are well portrayed in the Clint Eastwood mould: tough, moody types operating in dirty, dusty cars, hotels, buildings and landscapes.
Grim and suspenseful with excellent aerial shots, Marshland would not entice me to Spain but would entice me to director Alberto Rodriquez’s next film.
Raul Arevalo and Javier Gutierrez in Spanish murder mystery, Marshland.