Murina

TIFF 2021: Murina Review

Winner of this year’s Camera d’or at Cannes and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Murina is not your average coming of age film. Imagine an Antonioni film with a Pinter-esque tinge and you get a sense of this electrified dive into this rebellious teen’s psyche. Croatian director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović displays a maturity of style that is remarkable for a feature film debut.

Sixteen-year-old Julija (Gracija Filipovic) has every reason to be angry. Her father Ante (Leon Lucev) is a controlling patriarch, constantly barking orders and insults, yet her passive mother Nela (Danica Curcic), simply wants to keep the peace.

The family lives in virtual isolation on an island in Croatia. It’s an idyllic setting that would otherwise be a paradise if not for the mutual bitterness at the family’s core. When the film opens, Ante is expecting a guest, the handsome and worldly Javier (Cliff Curtis). It is the arrival of this outsider that stirs the emotions and forces hidden resentments to the surface.

In Murina, Kusijanović slowly yet methodically cranks up the heat in this psychological drama, masterfully taking advantage of the setting to fuel the suspense. An overwhelming feeling of isolation arises as she draws us further and further in. On the surface, the dynamic between them appears irrational. But in this bubble, according to the psychic logic of an angry frustrated young woman, we are engrossed in Julija’s rebellion. Using the most subtle visual means, Kusijanović successfully creates a world where Julija’s need to come into her own becomes realistic and palpable.

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