Murina (2022)

Murina (2022)

A gripping slow burn of a coming-of-age tale set on the gorgeous Croatian coast

The Very Best

8.3

Movie

Brazil, Croatia
Croatian, English, Spanish
Drama
2022
ANTONETA ALAMAT KUSIJANOVIĆ, FEMALE DIRECTOR
Cliff Curtis, Danica Curcic, Gracija Filipović
95 min

TLDR

We most definitely do NOT have the father of the year over here.

What it's about

When a wealthy family acquaintance comes to visit, a fraught power play is ignited between a headstrong teenage girl and her domineering father.

The take

A young woman’s coming-of-age threatens to topple the uneasy hierarchy of her family in this striking debut from Croatian director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović. The trigger for Julija’s (Gracija Filipović) angsty rebellion is the arrival of her parents’ enigmatic wealthy friend, Javi (Cliff Curtis), whom her controlling father Ante (Leon Lučev) is hoping to squeeze a juicy investment out of. Part of hot-headed Ante’s strategy involves playing on Javi’s still-simmering feelings for Ante's wife Nela (Danica Čurčić) — a dicey game to play when you have a temper like his. It’s also a very manipulative one, and the film lives in the atmosphere of claustrophobia that comes with being a woman in Ante’s life. Though her mother seems resigned to acceptance, Julija yearns for liberation, and it’s her burgeoning awareness of her own power as a woman that fires this drive for freedom. With its stunning Adriatic setting and haunting underwater sequences — the family are keen spearfishers — Murina is a film of natural beauty and human ugliness, a slow burn of a psychological drama that uses volatile teenage emotions as its incendiary fuel.

What stands out

With a performance that captures all the transitional complexity of becoming a young woman, Gracija Filipović is as much a breakout here as Murina’s director (who won Cannes' Caméra d'Or) is. She was only 17 years old during filming — incredible when you consider just how much she manages to convey here, and often through the subtlest of means. It’s no wonder she earned herself a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor for this, her first-ever feature performance.

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