A claustrophobic drama that lingers in the memory, Murina details a warring family over a crucial weekend in an idyllic paradise in the Adriatic Sea. Opening underwater as teenage Julija, an excellently sullen and stubborn Gracija Filipovic battles with her controlling father, Ante, played by Leon Lucev. He is on edge, treating his daughter with disdain and an iron fist in which her mother Nela (Danica Curcic) is apparently complicit.
They are preparing for a visit from old friend and millionaire Javi (Cliff Curtis), to who Ante is desperate to sell his land so he can move to Zagreb. Julija’s mother, it transpires, had a relationship with Javi and things could have turned out very differently for Julija had they remained together. Matters become more desperate as the attraction between them all fluctuates, jealousies surface and Julija increasingly wants to escape her suffocating father.
Murina is beautifully shot by Helene Louvart who makes full use of the paradisal setting: underwater vistas which she contrasts with tight closeups during moments of parental antagonism. All the characters are richly drawn, and like the ocean itself there’s plenty going on beneath the surface: notably in the case of Filipovic, who spends a great deal of the film in the sea diving and swimming, finding freedom in the water and its potential, rather than her stifling life at home.
This is a film full of regret and missed opportunity: what life could have been and what life is, and how nothing is ever what it seems like on the surface. Still, tense waters run deep, guided with restrained skill by Kusijanovic’s sensitive direction that offers ambiguity and interpretation throughout, but never fails to grip – particularly on father/daughter spearfishing trips and a suffocating chase through narrow underwater passageways.
Dir: Antoneta Alamata Kusijanovic (15, 95 mins)
Murina is out Fri 8 Apr
words KEIRON SELF
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