All through Murina, the primary function by Croatian director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic and winner of the Caméra d’Or on the 2021 Cannes Movie Competition, Ante (Leon Lucev) oscillates between being terrifying and hilarious. His outbursts to guard his delight and superiority over his 17-year-old daughter Julija (Gracija Filipovic) are sometimes so explosive as to be laughable. However her reactions to his impulses hold the viewers in suspense. May or not it’s that he actually means his insults and stands by his vicious contempt for her? Julija has no alternative however to face up to her father’s management and threats each minute of day-after-day on the gorgeous however remoted island they name residence. With every daybreak, she has to accompany him to hunt the murina (eel), at all times at his service.
Kusijanovic expertly breaks down the compelled servitude and the brutal familial mechanisms of this explicit form of patriarchy. To this author, whose personal father grew up within the Balkans, such machismo and ruthlessness is all too acquainted, although Ante is much extra extreme (fortunately). Whereas Kusijanovic isn’t pursuing an anthropological or socio-historical mission, her story makes clear the inferiority complicated that usually leads males within the area, nonetheless affected by its warfare wounds and disgrace, to construct hypocritical defenses towards their very own weak point and vulnerability. When Javier (a delicate and charming Cliff Curtis), an previous household buddy and millionaire, visits to doubtlessly purchase the land from Ante and considerably assist the household financially, Julija witnesses her father lose all self-respect to please him. Subsequent to Ante, Javier appears a beacon of reality and tenderness. And subsequent to Julija’s mom Nela (Danica Curcic), whom Javier admits he used to have a crush on, he appears like a way more appropriate associate, at the very least in Julija’s eyes. For the primary time, she witnesses a relationship the place duties of care and emotional openness aren’t reserved for the girl. Javier is directly the daddy and the lover that Julija by no means had, so constrained and repressed are all her pure instincts for connection and love on this surroundings.
As Ante shrinks increasingly more in entrance of Javier, pushed by his desperation to maneuver up in society and really feel higher about himself, and as her personal mom retains patiently tolerating his vanity, Julija acknowledges that each one her life, her father has used her to fill some void and have somebody to face on, and that she deserves higher. Her emancipation is much extra complicated and actual than the stereotypical and gendered form that motion pictures are inclined to depict. Her oppressor makes use of her femininity as an excuse, when what he’s actually concentrating on is her pure want for independence. And in contrast to most coming-of-age tales, Murina isn’t afraid to faucet into the deep wells of despair and loneliness that usually include progress. Kusijanovic toes the road between classical epic tragedy and a extra practical form of drama, with a method that’s cautious however direct. She’s aided by the delicate cinematography of Hélène Louvart, who frames Julija like a sea creature, extra snug within the depths the place solely she will be able to go, however at all times alone.
Murina opens in choose theaters July 8.