There's no doubt that this movie does bare a resemblance to the American TV series True Detective but Alberto Rodrigues Spanish thriller Marchland (2014) did actually start filming before the TV series. The resemblance steams from the environment in which the movie is set and that we have two main characters Juan and Pedro, played by Javier Gutierrez and Raul Arevalo that are ideologically opposed. The basic story co written by Rodriquez involves these two Madrid based homicide detectives who have never worked together before. They are sent to an insular community in the marshy lowlands of Marismas del Guadalquivir in the Andalucia region of Southern Spain to investigate the disappearance and subsequent murder of two teenage sisters, 16 year old Estrella and 15-year-old Carman.
Pedro is an ambitious young detective with a strong set of values and a sense of duty. While Juan character is a violent, fearful, angry loner whose mind-set is deeply buried in the old regime and refuses to see the future in the same way as Pedro. With an approach and methods that reflect his previous role as one of Franco's Gestapo the Brigada Politico Social he is a man who is used to getting results anyway he can, he also thinks that this new fangled democracy won't last.
The film is deliberately set in 1980 to parallel the huge economic crisis, social tension and domestic unrest and the uncertain politics that can be found in the so called civilized world today. A real life detective, who faced disciplinary action after he published a letter in the newspaper supporting the new democracy and the changes that were expected to follow, although at this time serious obstacles from the establishment were making this transition difficult, inspired the character of Pedro.
Both actors are totally believable as the two very different detectives. As are the other 40 plus members of the films cast which has a mix of new and established actors who all manage to bring something to this complex story. The film's timing/pace is superb as is the camera work of DOP Alex Catalan and the noirish colour palette that manages to draw the viewer deep into the heat and humidity of the inhospitable marshlands that act as an important backdrop to our story.
This entertaining thriller with its underlying seriousness is said to be one of the best Spanish films of 2014. It won ten Goya Awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and a Best Actor Award for Javier Gutierrez. All highly deserved for a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat and is definitely a feature film not be missed.