El Hierro is the nickname for Isla del Meridiano (pop. 10,162), the furthermost south of the Canary Islands, off the coast of North Africa. And this movie, simply Hierro, is the story of a single mom (Elena Anaya again) whose kid vanishes en route to the island. Several months later, insomniac and clearly dodging a good shower once in a while, she returns to El Hierro, ostensibly to identify a body. On arrival though, she quickly gets sucked into a mystery of vanished children and creepy locals and spends far too much time on miserable, windy beaches with bleak, black sand. Think, El Orfanato meets Deliverance. Except at the end….ok, spoiler alert here…..
….it’s clear she’s just a really carelessly bad mother, who continually makes horrible, even murderous mistakes without any sense of responsibility. So: atmospheric but flawed.
It filmed on location, and as I said, the island looks truly awful – wind-swept, instagram bleached, sand-blasted, the kind of place where plastic chairs go to die. It won’t be winning any tourism awards with this movie, that’s for sure. Interestingly, though, I discovered that the “Meridian” bit in the island’s name points to a more illustrious past, when it marked the Meridian and date line for a lot of non-English speaking countries, before the naval supremacy of Blighty shifted favor, finally, to my old turf of Greenwich.