Marshland (Spain)

2014 Spain

SUNDAY 1 May 10.00 am
TUESDAY 3 May 8.15 pm
RUNNING TIME 105 minutes


Juan (Javier Gutierrez) and Pedro (Raul Arevalo) are two experienced homicide detectives from Madrid with different styles and methods. Working together to try to solve an investigation in which two young sisters disappear during the annual festivities in Spain’s deep south in 1980, the two detectives have to put aside their professional differences in order to find and stop a serial killer. But there are obstacles including a strike by local labourers jeopardising the rice crop and illegal drug trafficking. who are working together to find a serial killer.


Winner of 10 Goya Awards, this engrossing murder mystery thriller set in the marshlands of Andalucia has plenty to recommend it, including a wonderful sense of place as the intricate pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Alberto Rodriguez’s film, which he penned with Rafael Cobos begins with an outside perspective and as the plot evolves, we are drawn into the place, the characters and events that bring two Madrid homicide detectives together in search of two missing teenage girls. Tense and filled with surprises, the film’s spectacular eerie soundscape enhances the stunning imagery of the all-important marshlands.

It is September, 1980 when Juan (Javier Gutierrez) and Pedro (Raul Arevalo) are partnered to investigate the disappearance of the young girls who were last seen three days earlier getting into a white Citroen. The tense relationship between Juan and Pedro is as much in focus as that of the other characters: Juan’s unorthodox style that includes violence is at odds with that of Pedro, who is quietly analytical. Juan has a dark secret about which Pedro can only guess.

A negative of naked girls; a drunk with a shotgun; a man who knows all the shortcuts; a rare film; a journalist whose family call him Truman Capote; an illegal brick; an abandoned farmhouse; a psychic who guts fish; a man in a hat who smells of expensive cologne – these are some elements that Juan and Pedro encounter as they begin their investigation.

Is there a connection to the young girls who went missing in earlier years? What is the pamphlet that offers job opportunities for women? And who is the man with a triangle tattoo? Julio de la Rosa’s soundscape soars – like the flocks of low-flying birds that add to the eeriness. Red sunsets make a striking contrast to the wheat fields before harvest; the spectacular landscape as shown in aerial shots, look like a patchwork quilt.

Rodriguez brings together all the elements with great skill, revealing information on a need to know basis and continually keeping us hungry for information. Gutierrez and Arevalo are excellent and the fact that there is constant tension between their characters adds greatly to the mix. The imagery of Alex Catalan’s beautiful cinematography lingers, as does the complex elements of the plot and Rodriguez’ characters.