Cine Las Americas 2015
By Don Simpson | April 27, 2015
Director: Alberto Rodríguez
Writers: Rafael Cobos, Alberto Rodríguez
Starring: Raúl Arévalo, Javier Gutiérrez, Antonio de la Torre, Nerea Barros, Salva Reina, Jesús Castro, Manolo Solo
Immersed within the stark natural landscape of the southern Spanish coast, Alberto Rodríguez’s Marshland is a brooding social commentary of post-Franco Spain disguised as a Fincheresque thriller. The year is 1980, two young women have disappeared from an otherwise innocuous hamlet. Enter two homicide detectives from Madrid, Juan (Javier Gutiérrez) and Pedro (Raúl Arévalo), who uncover a recent history of serial killings, teenage pornography and drug smuggling.
A political odd couple, Juan is a product of Franco’s gestapo, with no qualms about pummeling information out of people, while Pedro is a devout supporter of the democratic process. Regardless, Juan and Pedro suck up their ideological differences for the sake of their investigation. Hindered by the reclusively apathetic locals, the duo uncovers clues at a snail’s pace, as Rodríguez allows for the mystery to unravel naturally and unglamorously.
While our cinematic universe does not really need any more male-directed dark thrillers about young women being raped and murdered, Rodríguez’s politically-charged film smartly challenges the inherent misogyny of the genre. Rodríguez uses the small, secluded town to examine the clash between the selfish conservatism of the past and the more humanistic present. Up until the arrival of Juan and Pedro, the townspeople were as ambivalent to the murder spree as they were to the worker strike; those who were knowledgable of the local pornography ring or drug smuggling were more than happy to just avert their eyes. This is precisely what decades of fear and oppression do to collective mindset of a population, no wonder most of the teenage girls are looking for ways to escape.