La isla mínima [Marshland] (2014)

La isla mínima
Director: Alberto Rodríguez
Writer: Rafael Cobos, Alberto Rodríguez
Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Arévalo, Antonio de la Torre, Nerea Barros, Salva Reina, Jesús Castro, Manolo Solo
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 01.05.2015
[Reviews by Maynard and cornholio.]

Homicide detectives Juan (Javier Guiérrez) and Pedro (Raúl Arévalo) get called to a very remote area in the South of Spain. A series of women have been brutally murdered there and now two girls have gone missing. Juan and Pedro haven’t worked together long and they are very different in their views and work. But they share the same goal here, so they pull themselves together to try to get behind what is happening and find the killer.

La isla mínima gets compared to True Detective quite a bit and that comparison is pretty much spot-on: great atmosphere, stunning cinematography and frustrating plot developments. This film also adds a very interesting political component and ties it to Franco which is pretty cool. Still I was more annoyed and bored than engaged.


I’m not a huge fan of crime stories, so they always have a hard standing with me. They really need to be great or have something extraordinary to offer, so that I’ll really love them. That happens, but it’s rare. And unfortunately, storywise, Marshland doesn’t come even close to anything great. Instead it delivers completely standard fare, missing girls, sexual assault, rape, two problematic detectives investigating with questionable methods, a big, evil conspiracy and yadda yadda yadda.

With the plot having nothing to offer that we haven’t seen already, and the detectives themselves being your classic detective prototypes; with all of the women being victims and victims only who only do things on order from the men around them; and no sense of subversion of all of those tropes (which True Detective did offer until the last couple of episodes of the 1st season, btw), there is not much left that I could work with or enjoy about it.

la_isla_minima1There were the beautiful shots, especially the exciting aerial of the marshland itself, but also on ground level there was some marvelous camera work to behold. Rodríguez also manages to create an eerie, loaded atmosphere. And the connection to Franco’s regime and the happenings then was also really interesting.

But other than that I was mostly bored by the film and I kept losing more and more interest. By the end I was so disinterested that I’m not sure whether I actually got the ending at all because I just didn’t pay attention anymore to the big reveal(s). For a crime story, that is a pretty damning thing.

la_isla_minima2Summarizing: Maybe you like these kind of stories better than I do – then it’s worth checking out.

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