a moray eel in an eerie Garden of Eden


The film begins in the darkness of the underwater depths and the shimmer of light piercing the surface barely reaches us. The immersion is total, appealing to the senses more than usual. Sight and hearing must first adapt before being able to distinguish the two divers, for the moment anonymous, swimming side by side. They hunt moray eels with harpoons. One catch, and they rise to the surface. The sun is crushing, almost white, like the jersey worn by the young girl that we discover. And with her, her father (tightened jaw, powerful body), authoritarian from the start.

This inaugural scene, of pure beauty, acts like a particle accelerator, each fragment of which will be taken up and carefully observed throughout the film: the sea and its troubled waters, the mystery of the abyss, confinement, setting in motion and choreography. naked bodies, the danger that threatens (suggested by the oppressive nature of the soundtrack). The dark and enigmatic liquid in which Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic immerses us in apnea captivates from the first images, takes us in invisible nets of which we will remain captive. Even so, out of the water, the film becomes incandescent.

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First feature film by the Croatian director, which was presented at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in July 2021, Murina crafts a tale where heaven and hell collide in the barren splendor of the Kornati Islands. Both Eden and prison for the young heroine of the film, Julija (Gracija Filipovic), who, since her birth, has never left these lands surrounded by the Adriatic. She grew up there under the despotic yoke of her father, Ante (Leon Lucev), a former captain turned establishment boss, and the frightened benevolence of her mother, Nela (Danica Curcic). Julija lazes around all day in a bathing suit, looking out to sea at the clusters of young people having fun on board the boats. On this day like any other, she is barely moved by the excitement that reigns in the house. Javier (Cliff Curtis), Ante’s childhood friend who was once in love with his wife, has to land in New York after an absence of seven years. He is rich and wants to invest in local tourism. We want to put the small dishes in the big ones.

Refuge and hostile environment

Javier’s arrival upsets the routine. His presence revives emotions, resentments, regrets, long-dormant desires. She gives birth to unknown feelings in Julija and the hope of a future different from that which her father intends for her. The charm of the guest, the ease he embodies, the open-mindedness he demonstrates bring contradiction within the group, open consciences. Hearts stir and bodies shudder in contact with this new circulating fluid. A fluid conductor of emotions and sensations that the director restores in a vibrant way, handling ambiguity with delicacy, suggesting desire with restraint, by the brushing of bodies and the meeting of gazes.

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