The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - MURINA | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - MURINA

murina review
A teenage girl sees a wealthy visitor to her coastal community as an escape route from her controlling father.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović

Starring: Gracija Filipović, Leon Lučev, Danica Curcic, Cliff Curtis

murina poster

At first glance, 16-year-old Julija (Gracija Filipovic) appears to be living a life most of us would envy. She lives in a sun-blasted small village on the coast of Croatia, where the weather is so good she never has to wear anything other than a swimsuit. Working alongside her father, she makes a living hunting for the eels that give the film its title. Self-sufficiency in a sunny spot - isn't that the dream for many of us?

murina review

Not for Julija. She longs to escape her life. With envy she watches visiting tourists frolic on the beach and on boats, knowing that for them this village is but a temporary playground. Julija however is stuck here in the clutches of her psychologically if not physically abusive father, Ante (Leon Lucev), who dismisses all her ambitions.

When an old foreign friend of Ante's, Javier (Cliff Curtis), who is now a multi-millionaire businessman, arrives at the village, both Ante and Julija see him as the potential solution to their problems. Ante hopes he can convince Javier to invest in turning the village into a fully fledged resort. Julija sees the way Javier and her mother, Nela (Danica Curcic), look at one another, and sets in motion a plot to convince Javier into taking these two unhappy women away with him.

murina review

Murina boasts the sort of setup you might imagine being exploited to its fullest by some perverted French filmmaker, but in the hands of first time director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović it's surprisingly cold-blooded and passionless. The villain of the piece, Ante, is something of a one-dimensional stock bitter middle-aged man. There's no real depth to his antagonism or cruelty, and he's the sort of character that might fit better in some noirish thriller about lovers conspiring to knock off an unwanted husband. There's never any suggestion that Julija plans anything so dramatic for her father, but then again she doesn't seem to have any real plans at all.

murina review

This leads to a movie that lacks a satisfying narrative thrust. We're left to admire the scenery, the lush cinematography of Hélène Louvart and the quality of the performances, but there's just not enough to invest in here. Julija wants away from her miserable life, but that's as far as any sort of character development goes. We never learn anything else about her ambitions, and she's as undeveloped as her father. Julija escapes her surface misery by diving into the deep blue sea, but it's just a riff on the old cliché of a troubled woman dunking her head below the waterline of a bath. Filipovic impresses in her feature debut, but like the character she's portraying, she seems to be grasping for something the film keeps out of her reach.

Murina is in UK/ROI cinemas from April 8th and in virtual cinemas from May 9th.

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