Railing against an oppressive, overbearing father, a teenage girl embraces independence and flirts with desire over the course of a formative weekend in this sunny, sinister Croatian drama.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Tension and hostility reign in Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović’s first feature-length film, as a young woman begins to test the waters of rebellion, flirtation and freedom in this coming-of-age drama. Julija (Gracija Filipović) and her mother Nela (Danica Čurčić) lead an isolated existence on a sun-soaked Croatian island, living under the thumb of the family’s domineering patriarch Ante (Leon Lučev). Callous and single-minded, Ante is brutal with his words and cruel in his actions, preening his wife and daughter to help him broker a deal with old friend and wealthy businessman Javier (Cliff Curtis). Javier’s arrival brings lightness, ease and a warmth that throws Ante’s cold, callous nature into sharp relief.
As our heroine begins to push back against her father’s control, she also starts to contemplate what life would be like if Javier took his place. Murina invites audiences to join a secluded, intimate island weekend where frustration and desire seethe from all sides. Inspired by Kusijanović’s 2017 short film Into the Blue, the Dubrovnik-born director captures the duality of the film’s idyllic setting: a potential haven for some, a prison for others. The glimmering waters of the Adriatic Sea and the island’s sun-bleached rock faces provide a mesmerising backdrop for the domestic drama that unfolds, as each character dances dangerously close to their breaking point. Anchored by a measured performance from Filipović, the film is centred on Julija’s burgeoning desire for independence; Kusijanović’s talent lies in keeping us in suspense as we anticipate the lengths she might go to get it. — Samantha Gianotti