Current Issue #488

Film Review:
The Silence of the Marsh
(El Silencio Del Pantano)

Juanjo Braulio’s novel awkwardly comes to the screen, with director Marc Vigil trying to make the muddled plot work on several different levels – none of which are especially interesting.

Using a show-off narrative that might work on the page but doesn’t really on film, this offers a fair performance from Pedro Alonso as the mysterious, narcissistic, possibly psychopathic ‘Q’, but the character is so sketchy and irksome that maybe he shouldn’t have bothered.

Q is a popular author who zooms around on a motorbike, oddly changes clothes regularly as he writes, offers pompously serial-killer-ish descriptions of the moral rot in Valencia and never, ever cracks a smile. He seems to discuss murder a lot, and it’s frustratingly unclear if he’s speaking from experience, or if he goes back post-publication and recreates the crimes for some obscure reason. And it’s hard to care much too.

There’s also a major thread here about the governmental corruption and drug-running that goes on in the seaside town, which appears to be the reason why Q kidnaps a former-politician-turned-academic and imprisons him in the grotty bathroom of the house he apparently owns with his oblivious and long-suffering brother. This isolated place is in the middle of the marsh of the title, and Q rattles on about how the whole region is built on a swamp but, again, there’s too much tired ambiguity about whether this cottage is a real place or some sort of vague representation of the pretentious landscape of his troubled psyche. Or something.

Psychodramatic and noir clichés are variously wheeled out as we get closer and closer to what is actually going on here – or maybe not – and, perhaps, some knowledge of Valencia’s history might help. Or perhaps not: it’s up to you, and chances are it won’t make this one any less vague or annoying.

And yes, that ending, when it finally comes, makes about as much sense as anything else here, and is guaranteed to leave most punters scratching their heads until their scalps bleed. Once again… um… que???

Reviewer Rating

The Silence Of The Marsh (MA) is now streaming on Netflix

DM Bradley

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