This is not a 'true story'. Based around the 1921 wreck of the Santa Isabel off the island of Salvora in northern Spain, the wreck itself and the heroism of the women are historical fact. The murder, the investigative journalist and the darker story which emerges, are film-makers' inventions, partly based on rumours for which there was never any evidence. Actual events were still more extraordinary (for example the real rescue-heroine Maria, in the film the main character, was only 14 years old) but this works well enough as a piece of fiction.
The atmosphere is strong, all colours muted, all dresses black, with a relentless feeling of remoteness, even though the island is only 5km from the Spanish Coast. The men work on the mainland and rarely visit, so, following the wreck, it is left to three women to mount a rescue. They save over 50 but 200 others die and some of their bodies seem to have been looted and mutilated. A journalist stays on the island to uncover the 'truth' of what happened, with a suspenseful and plausible mystery then emerging.
Acting is good throughout, especially Nerea Baros, in the lead, giving a brooding and angry, yet subtle and restrained performance. The pacing may be slow for some, but the wild, bleak scenery (this seems to have been shot at least partly on the island) helps build a grim atmosphere of repression and intimidation. I found events difficult to follow at times, mostly down to poor subtitling on the copy I viewed, with long speeches left untranslated and some titles disappearing before they could be read.
All in all a solid interesting film, well made and directed and well worth watching.
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Tech specs720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1 hr 29 min