Marshland (Spanish: La isla mínima, "The Tiny Island") is a 2014 Spanish thriller film directed by Alberto Rodríguez. It premiered in Spain on September 26, 2014. It won ten Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor (Javier Gutiérrez).

Marshland (film) POSTER.jpg
Theatrical release poster
La isla mínima
Directed byAlberto Rodríguez
Written byAlberto Rodríguez
Rafael Cobos
StarringRaúl Arévalo
Javier Gutiérrez
Nerea Barros
Antonio de la Torre
Music byJulio de la Rosa
CinematographyAlex Catalán
Edited byJosé M. G. Moyano
Atípica Films
Sacromonte Films
Atresmedia Cine
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures Intl.
Release date
  • September 26, 2014 (2014-09-26) (Spain)
Running time
105 minutes[1][2]
Budget€4 million
Box office$8.9 million[3]


In 1980, Madrid homicide detectives Pedro Suarez and Juan Robles are sent to a 'backwater' town on the Guadalquivir Marshes in Spain's 'Deep South' to investigate the disappearance of two teenage sisters during the town's festivities. Pedro, openly critical of Spain's past during the Francoist State, has a problem with authority figures, while Juan seems not to care, though he has a troubled past of his own.

The detectives meet with the girls' (Carmen and Estrella) father, Rodrigo, a local riverboat skipper. Although Rodrigo and his wife Rocío say their daughters were average girls, the duo hear from the local police that they were known for their promiscuity, and from their friends that they had a deep urge to leave the town. Rocío also gives the detectives a burnt film reel she's found, depicting the girls naked and in bed with a man whose face is obscured by a flash. Soon enough, both Carmen and Estrella are found dumped in the local marsh, having been raped and tortured to death.

Troubled and with no leads, the two attempt to spy on Quini, the handsome and suave former boyfriend of Carmen. Quini, now dating another town girl, Marina, manages to sneak up on the detectives after they've followed him and attempts to threaten them with a knife. After disarming and sending him away, the two agree that Quini must be part of whatever is occurring. The problem proves to be even bigger after a drunk man named Castro tells the detectives about a similar case: his girlfriend, Beatriz, was close to Quini and the sisters, and was found dismembered in the marshes, her suitcase floating there.

Pedro and Juan continue to investigate, gradually unraveling secrets. It is revealed that the riverboats and marshes are being used to smuggle and transport heroin, and that Rodrigo had stolen a kilo and sold it, getting him in trouble with the locals. However, the locals involved in the drugs seek out the detectives, revealing their participation in drug smuggling in full but claiming they had nothing to do with the sisters' deaths. One of the men does aid the investigation, however, by describing a white Dyane 6 he saw at the church where one of the girls' purse was found. After digging through more victims' items, the two see a pattern of out-of-town job brochures for women, eventually linking Quini to a man named Sebastian. Digging through Sebastian's past, they find a warrant out for him for the possible sexual molestation of a child, solidifying his chance of being the main culprit. Juan and Pedro deduce that Quini and Sebastian were luring the young women of the town, who were aching to leave and find their own independence through work, by passing these brochures around and then entrapping them into sexual slavery at a local hunting lodge.

The waters grow murky, however, when Pedro becomes aware of Juan's past shooting of a girl at a protest during the Franco Era. Pedro is also angered after a possible third culprit, a local factory owner named Alfonso Corrales, is brushed over, most likely due to complex political ties. The two continue on though, eventually deducing Sebastian's cover as the watchman of the hunting lodge. Pedro attempts to tail his white Dyane 6, but loses him. With the help of a local poacher named Jesús, the trio finally chase Sebastian into the marshes. All three are shot by the sniping Sebastian, though as he is about to slay Pedro, Juan is able to sneak up and stab him, which he does repeatedly, in a state. After Sebastian falls dead into the swamp, Juan opens the trunk of the car to rescue a bruised but still alive Marina.

The town is brought peace after the case is solved, as well as by the local worker's union accepting a pay raise (which in principle, they felt was too low). All seems well for the detectives too, as Pedro sees a promotion and relocation closer to his own home and wife. On the final night of their stay however, Pedro receives photographs from a journalist who has helped on the case. Though Juan justified his shooting story by saying it was his former partner's actions, the journalist reveals him to have actually been a brutal enforcer for Franco's secret police force, and to have once been known as 'The Crow'.

In the morning, before they drive home, Juan asks a stoney-faced Pedro if they 'are good'. Pedro does not answer, and the two ride off to an uncertain future.


  • Raúl Arévalo as Pedro Suárez
  • Javier Gutiérrez as Juan Robles
  • Antonio de la Torre as Rodrigo
  • Nerea Barros as Rocío
  • Jesús Castro as Joaquín Varela, "Quini"
  • Mercedes León as Mrs. Casa Soto
  • Adelfa Calvo as Fernanda
  • Manolo Solo as a journalist
  • Salvador Reina as Jesús
  • Jesús Carroza as Miguel
  • Juan Carlos Villenueva as Judge Andrade
  • Alberto González as Alfonso Corrales
  • Manuel Salas as Sebastián Rovira
  • Cecilia Villanueva as María
  • Ana Tomeno as Marina

Critical receptionEdit

The film received mostly positive reviews. It has a critic approval rating of 91% on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.8/10, based on 34 reviews.[4] Critics have hailed Marshland as one of the best Spanish films of 2014, and have defined it as a suffocating cop thriller with a subtle sociopolitical subplot.[5] They have also pointed out reminiscences of American series True Detective in the star power of the main actors and the environment of the film, although the film began to be recorded before the series's release.[6]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Awards Category Nominated Result
San Sebastián International Film Festival[7] Golden Shell for Best Film Nominated
Best Actor Javier Gutiérrez Won
Best Cinematography Álex Catalán Won
I Premio Feroz Zinemaldia Won
II Premios Feroz[8] Best Drama Won
Best Director Alberto Rodríguez Won
Best Screenplay Alberto Rodríguez & Rafael Cobos Nominated
Best Main Actor Raúl Arévalo Nominated
Javier Gutiérrez Won
Best Supporting Actor Antonio de la Torre Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Nerea Barros Nominated
Best Original Soundtrack Julio de la Rosa Won
Best Trailer Won
Best Film Poster Nominated
29th Goya Awards[9] Best Film Won
Best Director Alberto Rodríguez Won
Best Original Screenplay Rafael Cobos and Alberto Rodríguez Won
Best Main Actor Raúl Arévalo Nominated
Javier Gutiérrez Won
Best Supporting Actor Antonio de la Torre Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Mercedes León Nominated
Best New Actress Nerea Barros Won
Best Original Score Julio de la Rosa Won
Best Cinematography Álex Catalán Won
Best Editing José M. G. Moyano Won
Best Production Supervision Manuela Ocón Nominated
Best Art Direction Pepe Domínguez Won
Best Costume Design Fernando García Won
Best Makeup and Hairstyles Yolanda Piña Nominated
Best Sound Daniel de Zayas, Nacho Royo-Villanova and Pelayo Gutiérrez Nominated
Best Special Effects Pedro Moreno and Juan Ventura Nominated
Neox Fan Awards 2015[10] Best Spanish film Finalist
28th European Film Awards[11] European Film Academy People's Choice Award for Best European Film Won


  1. ^ Marshland at AllMovie.
  2. ^ Marshland at Rotten Tomatoes (movie info).
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Marshland (La isla mínima) (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  5. ^ Pazos, Pablo (26 September 2014). ""La isla mínima": llega la mejor película española del año". HoyCinema (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  6. ^ Rodríguez Marchante, Oti (26 September 2014). "Una intriga seca en un mundo húmedo". HoyCinema (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Palmarés de la 62 edición del Festival de San Sebastián". Festival de San Sebastián (in Spanish). 27 September 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Lista de nominados a los Premios Feroz 2015". Premios Feroz (in Spanish). 17 December 2014. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  9. ^ "La isla maxima [sic]". Premios Goya (in Spanish). January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  10. ^ neox-fan-awards-2015 Archived September 1, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "European Film Awards Winners 2015: Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Scoops Best Film, Director & Actor For Michael Caine". Deadline.

External linksEdit