A review of Murina
When I was younger, I remember meeting some of my friend's parents and thinking, even for just a moment, “I bet it would be pretty cool if these people were my parents.” Director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s film, Murina, takes that premise and runs with it. Julija (Gracija Filipovic) lives on a beautiful Croatian island that many tourists frequent as a vacation destination, but as a teenager, she constantly clashes with her controlling and somewhat abusive father Ante (Leon Lucev). Her beautiful mother, Nela (Danica Curcic), tries her best to act as a moderator, but even she is often at the mercy of her husband’s wicked temper. When a wealthy friend of the family, Javier (or “Javi” as he lovingly is called - played by the ever-charming Cliff Curtis), comes to visit, everyone must be on their best behavior to impress the special guest, but along the way, Julija starts to have other ideas.
Murina is a slow burn of a film, but a beautiful one at that. The cinematography lets the viewer take in the vast landscapes of living by the Adriatic Sea in what initially seems like an idyllic locale. Gracija Filipovic is fantastic as Julija. This is her second time working with Kusijanovic, after starring in her short film Into the Blue. She is in many ways a classic teenager: angry, stomping around, and defiant. The few times Julija seems carefree are while she is spearfishing. Murina is slang for moray eel in Croatian. Julija claims to hate fishing, but she loves freediving and the control of holding her breath. Despite the gorgeous scenery, the set of a small island begins to feel more and more claustrophobic as Julija struggles to find ways to leave it behind.
Julija’s father hopes to convince Javi to purchase the land that he owns in order to leave island life behind, and finally, get an apartment in the city. He goes out of his way to make his wife and daughter cater to Javier’s whims, hoping to win him over. Julija begins to realize that there is more to the history between Javi and her family (in particular, between him and her mother). Javi's blatant affection for both her and her mother emboldens Julija to make up her mind to “replace” her father with Javi. But not everything goes according to plan. Without giving too much away, Murina is about placing your hopes for a better life on others and realizing that, in the end, you have to make your own changes. Kusijanovic’s film is well worth the watch and I look forward to whatever she creates next.
Besides watching TV and movies, Diana likes plants, the great outdoors, drawing and reading comics, and just generally rocking out. She has a BA in English Literature and is an art school dropout. You can follow her on Instagram @dldimuro and Twitter @DianaDiMuro