Director: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
Writers: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic, Frank Graziano
Stars: Gracija Filipovic, Danica Curcic, Leon Lucev
Living on an idyllic Croatian island, teenage Julija (played by Gracija Filipović) is at odds with her father. Controlling her daughter’s wishes, family tension rises when wealthy friend Javier (Cliff Curtis) arrives to stay. A heady mix of decades of excitement, the events of a few days in paradise are destined to change everything.
Julija (Gracija Filipovic) is the teenage daughter of Ante (Leon Lucev), an aggressively insecure man whom she has to help, diving underwater with him while he makes a living on the rocky Adriatic coast by harpooning moray eels. “murines”). of the title). She is reasonably close to her mother Nela (Danica Curcic), but otherwise unhappily proud and self-sufficient. Her father is nervous that her old friend Javi (Cliff Curtis) is coming to visit: a super-rich alpha male who may be interested in buying some of Ante’s land to turn into a vacation spot. It is an open secret that Javi was once in love with Nela and he may still be, and he is also very much in love with the young beauty Julija.
Closing the Glasgow Film Festival with its UK premiere, Murina details an almost loveless environment where outsiders would normally think to find it. Billed as a coming-of-age tragedy, the choice of media genre does the narrative no justice: it goes beyond adolescent angst into the clutches of ego sadism. Delightfully concocted through ethereal imagery and extremely strong ensemble acting, Murina has room for a haunting portrayal of the psychological torment that lingers in the mind.
As her feature directorial debut, Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović has no limits when she crafts her writing voice. Kusijanović’s script sings with teenage tantrums, insecure motherhood, and shocking flashes of tactical taunts that can only serve the male ego. Behind the camera, she is just as masterful. With the likes of Martin Scorsese serving as executive producer for Sikelia Productions, the cinematography and visual storytelling had high expectations to live up to, and they live up to them. The endless weight of life’s torment drags the audience into the abyss of the Adriatic Sea, with underwater shots suspended in time, energy and any sense of space. The heights of teenage life literally flash past Julija, her surroundings an exquisite metaphor for the refuge, escape and potential heartbreak that any vast ocean can hold.
At times embodying an overtly repressed version of Mamma Mia, Murina is a far cry from any typical coming-of-age movie that often depicts the plight of Western teenagers. An exceptional performance from Gracija Filipović, Julija is sprightly, but worn and dull in her ability to feel hope for her future thanks to her oppressive living environment. Constantly a target of her father’s relentless mind games, the narrative structure plays with the ultimate social position of masculinity thrashing at her chest. Not an original theme in its own right, the sobering plot points that spiral into heart-stopping drama make Murina’s performance an essential watch.
Subtext aside from the obvious teenage connotation, there’s a lot to be said for the present of “only child syndrome.” Being the only child in a room full of adults can be an exhausting and overwhelming reality, consuming every subconscious decision and level of self-criticism. A clear product of her environment, Julija’s commitment to push back against her limited options perfectly epitomizes the tunnel vision of how to get things done when the immediate world is so small. A sense of awkwardness that translates across the screen, Leon Lučev’s portrayal of father inflates a machismo that subtly reframes her family dynamics. Showing the well-known dangers of threatening the male ego, the continual energy of his small penis aims to pull the strings of his family, while instead driving them apart.