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Marshland

5 August 15 words: Harry Wilding
This award winning Spanish film, set in 1980, is atmospheric look at a country finding its feet after emerging from a recent dark past
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Opening with some beautiful aerial shots of the wetlands around the Guadalquivir River in Spain’s deep south - most of which bring to mind a brain membrane slice under a microscope - the Spanish film, Marshland sets the tone for its dark proceedings and its prime location for them. It is 1980, five years after General Franco’s death, just two years after Spain has officially become a democracy again, this time of political volatility looms large within the story.

The film focuses on two detectives who have come to try and find two young women who have gone missing. The new detective partners of polar opposites, which is not anything new in itself, but works nicely for this film – Pedro (Raul Arevalo) is younger, with a pregnant wife back in Madrid, and represents a new generation - left-wing, honest and determined to be a part of a reformed police force. Juan (Javier Gutierrez), however, seems much less attached to the investigation, is quick to resort to violence and illegal activity with witnesses, and may have ties to Franco’s regime.

The look of the film and subject matter is certainly reminiscent of True Detective, but holds it’s own unique power. Some of the film’s frames were apparently based on photographs by Atín Aya, and this is where the Director Alberto Rodriguez and director of photography Alex Catalan started work on the film, at an exhibition of the photographer’s work.

The mood created by the setting, cinematography, and time in history is perfect and makes Marshland thoroughly watchable. Character development and plot do not fare so well. Pedro and Juan are well drawn, but some secondary characters end up a bit two-dimensional and clichéd, while a couple of story threads about drug running and a psychic end up underused.

The frustrations around Marshland mainly come down to a few small elements that seem underwritten, but they only become concerns after watching the film. While watching, you’re just happy to be along for the beautiful, dark, atmospheric, and intriguing ride.

Marshland will be shown at Broadway Cinema from Friday 7 August 2015 to Thursday 13 August 2015.

Marshland Trailer

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