The feature-length debutant Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović won the Golden Camera, ie the award for the best debut film in Cannes, where “Murina” was shown as part of the Directors’ Evenings program. I think this is the first award for a Croatian film at an A festival after who knows how many years, and it is interesting that one of the producers of this authentic, yet universal coming-of-age drama was Martin Scorsese. Indeed, “Murina” is one of the best Croatian films in the last few years, but just like the vast majority of domestic films, it did very poorly at the box office. “Murina” is a film that both thematically and stylistically fully follows the trends in modern European cinema and a film that is easy to conclude why it could be loved by enlightened juries and critics at these mundane festivals.
For those who don’t know, the murine is a slightly snake-like species of fish that usually lives alone among the rocks, and it can be quite aggressive when it realizes it’s endangered. Not only does she have a dangerous bite that can be very painful and heals slowly, but she also has a hidden poison in her own blood. The main protagonist of the film, 17-year-old Julija (excellent debutant Gracija Filipović), also has some characteristics of murine. She lives on a Dalmatian island with her strict father Ante (Leon Lučev) who acts as an aggressive narcissistic complexist and obedient mother Nela (Danish actress of Serbian origin Danica Čurčić). And not only is Julia lonely, but she seems to be one of those people who loves solitude, and she and her mother live under the firm grip and strict control of a commanding father whose always she is last.
It is very quick to sense that Ante is planning to sell his house and land on the island where they live and move to Zagreb, which is why his friend from his young days, American businessman Javier (Cliff Collins), arrives there with the company. Ante wants to create the impression with his rich friend that they are a harmonious family, which in addition to the summer, the sun, the beautiful landscapes of the Dalmatian islands should influence him to untie the bag. However, we quickly realize that Ante and Javi are not exactly friends, but Ante once worked as a sailor for Javi’s father and did some shit that made them break up. It is also obvious that Nela had something to do with Javi in the past, and her father’s servility towards a rich stranger will create additional resistance in the stubborn girl.
Not only will she try to sabotage her father’s plans, but Julia seems to find a kind of surrogate father figure in Java, and on his arrival she seems to see some utopian, escapist plan to escape her father’s grip. It will also become clear to us after a while that only this girl, who is almost a mermaid, is always in the qualities of a murine, constantly in the sea in which she manages best. All four main characters seem to have certain characteristics of a murine, and Julia will gather more and more courage and she decided to oppose her aggressive father at all costs, and at times it seems that she and her mother are more Antina’s hostages than his closest ones.
But the story is there, we will understand by the end, much more complex and the situation is not so black – white as it may seem at first glance. By the end, Antina’s behavior will become at least a little clearer, as it is very clear that “Murina” is not even close to the typical summer feel-good film, but an interesting drama in which, in addition to topics such as patriarchy, growing up in distress controlling parents, the author also subtly deals with topics such as the sale of land and the servile attitude of local people towards foreigners. Rating 7.5 / 10.
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