The Courier: Is Ivan Marquez Based on a Real Criminal?

In Netflix’s ‘The Courier,’ the audience is transported to one of the most financially difficult times in Spain, or more accurately, at the beginning of it. The story follows a young man named Ivan Marquez, who narrates the story of how he joined the fray of the people who used the bubbling financial crisis in the country as an opportunity to make as much money as possible. The story begins with him witnessing the fall of his hard-working father, and this puts him on a path where he doesn’t care about the means but only about making more money. Considering that the background of the story is pulled off of the real event in recent Spanish history, the character of Ivan calls for parallels to real life.

The Fictional Ivan Vasquez Represents the Fraught Situation of Young People

‘The Courier’ is directed by Daniel Calparsoro, who wanted to present the Spanish financial crisis through a fictional lens, exploring the mindset of the young people who got caught up in the circus of all the rich who had been profiting off of the general masses all this while, eventually leading to the bursting of the market bubble and creating a disaster for the Spanish people.

While the setting of the story is real, Calparsoro didn’t want the film to turn into a history lesson. He explicitly refrained from turning the story into some preachy story about crime and its consequences. He was more focused on making a film that the audience would enjoy and think about once they left the theatres. While the real crisis in Spain forms the foundation of the story, the director wanted to approach it from a universal lens, exploring human greed and the downsides of having an insatiable ambition.

Calparsoro wanted to present the story from the POV of someone who has seen the abject face of poverty and found it interesting to explore the actions of the characters once they come into money. How money changes a person and how easily it makes them forget their roots is one of the primary themes of the story, reflected through the background of Ivan and his actions throughout the film, which he tries to justify in one form or another.

Because the director wanted to start from the lowest rung of the criminal organization, it made sense to focus on the perspective of a complete outsider and underline the state of the many young people who were lured by the money and ended up taking the jobs as couriers, transporting all sorts of things for their criminal bosses, most times not even knowing what they were transporting for whom.

In all of this, class difference also emerges as a major factor. The director pointed out that the reason young penniless men are attracted to such jobs is because they are ready to dirty their hands for the things that their rich bosses don’t want to be overtly involved in, considering that they have more to lose. So, for a small cut of the money, the person with a more uncertain financial situation will take up the task, driven only by greed and not bothered by any ideology because the only thing they care about is survival, which adds a strange duality to the characters. We know what they are doing is wrong, but we can’t help but wonder whether we would support them and want them to survive.

The director wanted to highlight the complexity of the story through Ivan’s character and his tumultuous journey, which involves many ups and downs. He chose to focus on that black-and-white side of things through a fictional character rather than choosing a real person as the protagonist.

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