La isla mínina, directed by Alberto Rodríguez (2014).
Rural Andalucía, 1980. Two teenage girls have disappeared during the village fair and two homicides detectives are sent from Madrid to find them, Juan (Javier Gutiérrez) and Pedro (Raúl Arévalo). Pedro is younger and an enthusiast of the newly born democracy, while Juan is more conservative, promiscuous and willing to get his hands dirty to get the job done. Together they will get immersed in a complicated scheme in the deep South marshlands.
Alberto Rodríguez and Rafael Cobos do an excellent job at taking the traditionally English-speaking genre of detective fiction and transplanting it to Andalusian culture and history. There are great writers of detective fiction in the Spanish language in different media, and La isla mínima is a specially good blend of both cultures and has good understanding of the rules of the genre. There are twists and turns and red herrings in the story, as well as very interesting dynamics between the two detectives. I’m pretty sure True detective had some influence in its inception and the result is brilliant.
This features three of the best Spanish actors alive right now: Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Arévalo and Antonio de la Torre. Look out for Salva Reina in a new adventure after his many years of work as a stand-up comedian. While the acting is great, the actors tend to mumble and slur their lines which makes following the dialogue difficult even after turning the volume up. Slurring is great for realism, but I want to understand the movie!
The aesthetic and art direction is awesome. It’s hard to convey to that level of detail the atmosphere of a farming village thirty-five years ago, and it’s all spot-on: the clothes, decorations, house interiors, furniture, everything. The color palette and photography are beautiful.
To wrap it up, totally worth your time.