Director: Alberto Rodríguez
Distributor: Cinéart, Twin Pics
Duration: 100 minutes
La Isla Mínima (DVD) – Movie Review
We often offer very typical Hollywood flicks when we write our reviews, or simply series and movies that everyone has heard about and perhaps wants to learn if they are worth watching or not. Today we try to break free from that pattern and offer a bit of ‘foreign’ cinema, namely all the way from Spain. Even though the climate may be pleasant for many tourists, the undertone of this movie is a lot more grim, as it involves a psychopathic serial killer who remains uncaught, in an area where the people would rather simply look the other way.
When in Andalucía in 1980 girls go missing, the Madrid Police department decides to send over two of their detectives, in order to clear the case and hopefully bring the young girls back home. The unlikely duo seems to have totally different methods and very diverging standards and values. Nonetheless, it seems both are stuck to each other and will have to make do. On the one hand there is Pedro (Raúl Arévalo), who rocks his eighties pornstache quite hard, albeit he is the one who truly wants to solve the case and do it in a righteous way. On the other hand there is Juan (Javier Gutiérrez), who also wants to solve the case, but has rather violent methods if he wishes to get someone to talk, which seems to be tied to his rather conspicuous past. That being said, both do their best when they are investigating the disappearance of two young girls, who are known for sleeping around, but come home every time. This time proves to be different, and there’s reason to believe it’s a matter of foul play, especially when certain belongings of the girls are found in the vicinity of where they went missing.
After the two bodies of the girls are found, brutally mutilated, with signs of rape and dismemberment before they even passed away, it’s clear a psychopath is on the loose. After roaming the countryside of Andalucía, with the help of a local Jésus (Salva Reina) many things become quite apparent, namely that there are many shady figures roaming around: those who wish to earn some quick cash, those who simply don’t care about the case and last but not least, those who clearly know more but are too scared to talk, or are in on it. Add the fact that Juan seems to be very sick, time proves to be of the essence.
Compared to many movies that are being released nowadays, the pace of La Isla Mínima is rather slow, as it tends to focus more on the differences between the two detectives, as well as the actual questioning of different suspects. Nonetheless, the movie has a strange way of drawing you in, so that, even with the slow pace in order, time tends to fly by. As far as story value goes, things are rather simple at its base, but prove to get more complicated along the way, which makes you ponder even more about who might have done the evil deed(s).
In combination with the story, it’s clear that the filming aspects of the movie took the foreground more than often, thanks to the use of a lot of close-ups on facial expressions, as well as many overviews of the beautiful, yet rather barren surroundings Andalucía has to offer. It’s clear that the eighties were still a very rough period in this portion of the world, where not everyone has adapted to the sense of freedom that is now common in Spain. The visuals of this movie are in many ways a lot more charming and tone setting than many of the CGI enhanced movies that are thrown at us on a daily basis.
Acting performances are top notch, going from both detectives to the smaller and sometimes seemingly insignificant extras. Nonetheless, everything feels very qualitative, but most of all the unspoken duel between Javier and Raúl is the true magic that happens on the screen. Even though you never see the thoughts of either character, they are still rather clear thanks to the amazing acting both actors have to offer.
This DVD edition sadly doesn’t offer that many extra features, which is a shame, given the overall beautifully depicted movie. While there is a making of present on the disc, it would have been fun to see a tad more of the environments used, or perhaps a more in-depth background about both detectives.
La Isla Mínima proves to be a great piece of cinema, not only in its genre, but as a whole experience. The case itself might prove to be rather common in movies such as this one, but the atmosphere and acting this movie has to offer prove to be the things that truly bring this movie to the next level. If you wish to try something outside of your comfort zone when it comes to movies that are not voiced in English, this one deserves a top spot on your list.