REVIEW: MARSHLAND (LA ISLA MÍNIMA)
By Elena Anele (*)
LA ISLA MÍNIMA aka MARSHLAND tells the story of two pole-apart homicide detectives (Raúl Arévalo and Javier Aguirre) who must find a serial killer before more young women lose their lives. It was written by Rafael Cobos and Alberto Rodríguez, being this last one also the one in charge of the direction.
La Isla Mínima was the winner of most Goya awards in this year edition: best movie, best leading actor, best original screenplay, best director, best cinematography… among others. It deserved all these awards: the actors do a great job; the cinematography is astonishing, not only because of the aerial shots of the marshlands but also because of the frames inspired by the works of Atín Aya, considered the last photographer of the working class; careful attention was paid to the setting and details… making the whole thing technically impeccable.
The story takes place in the Spanish deep South in the early times of the Spanish democracy after Franco’s death. Two girls disappeared one night and two police men have just arrived to investigate about it. After finding the girls’ dead tortured bodies they discover that more girls have been brutally killed and nobody seems to know who did it. The small town is terrorized but no one seems to be willing to help, they appear to be still living in the caudillo times when you see, hear and say nothing.
Apart from the gruesome of the crimes and the feeling of abandon, solitude and isolation we get from the beautiful cinematography, the contrast of what it is called the two “Spains” is always there. The two detectives are day and night, one comes from what we can call Franco’s school: violent, torturer… The other believes in fair play, in a new way of investigation and behaviour. The parents, the people from the town, the mayor… everybody from the Marshland seems to still live in a time in which they must remain in silence, they are scare of talking, of helping, of accusing… It is not only a thriller but also a look into a time full of political instability and corruption within the authorities. It is a crime story that shows the worst of the past times, bringing to our minds real crimes almost every Spaniard is familiar with, unsolved crimes which murderers are still living freely.
The narrative structure, the description of characters and the pace of it follow the perfect tempo. Every surprise, every twist, every revelation has its own perfect space and time.
A must see for all cinema lovers especially for the ones who are missing a little of those thrillers made in Spain in the 80s, those police stories and the quinquis adventures.
Elena Anele is the woman in charge of SPANISHFEAR.COM, Horror Rises from Spain and Un Fan de Paul Naschy . A literature and cinema researcher, finishing her postgraduate studies with a thesis about the mystic filmmaker José Val del Omar. She has published in different media and books as Fangoria or Hidden Horror. She has also been in charge of several translations including Javier Trujillo’s complete works, La Mano Film Fest, The Man who Saw Frankenstein Cry and many more.