Due to the fact that Mother Nature has not yet released her grip on winter, I've been staying in and catching up with films and TV shows that I've not had the chance to watch. Marshland or La Isla Minima, as it was called in it's native Spain is a 2014 movie dealing with two detectives from Madrid traveling to a small town in Andalusia to investigate the disappearance of two sisters. The setting is the first years of the fledgling democracy after Franco's death and the secrecy and fear still present in the society. Implied is the fact that these detectives are being punished by taking the case. The younger wrote a scathing letter about a general to a newspaper. The elder has secrets as well but they are part of the story.
The most compelling aspect of this piece is the cinematography in which the camera manages to frame the scenery and action as if it's on an artists canvas. Impressive since the locations are mostly ugly small towns and marshlands. Special mention also goes to the actors, especially the two leads who manage to take sparse, undefined characters and make them seem human and not heroes or villains. Indeed this story is more of a character piece, with it's slow pace rather than the American fast pace cop dramas. Finally it is a male dominated film and there are no lead females, but the women of the villages are the ones who help the story along by serendipitously giving information that leads to the real culprit.
The only real weakness of the movie is that the actual story has been done numerous times, indeed if one is a fan of crime drama, the actual culprit becomes clear partway through. Most reviews link it to the True Detective genre and while the atmosphere is the same, the crimes and pace are very different. I'd urge anyone who likes foreign films with subtitles or anyone who enjoys crime drama to check out this Spanish thriller.