The coming evening is a special one. Ante is eager to welcome his old friend Javier (Cliff Curtis), an industry master and first-line wheel trader, to dinner. He hopes to sell his land to ‘Javi’ and give up the spearfishing life (the title of the film is a word for a Mediterranean moray eel) for an apartment in Zagreb. Julija, a kind of mermaid in every way, is eager to get the idea of living away from the sea.
Both her mother and her father resent her walking around the house and grounds in her white one-piece bathing suit. Ante makes an insulting remark, mother Nela (Danica Curcic) tells Julija she is ‘naked’. The stately Filipović plays a young woman who is quite oblivious to her body, despite being at an age where everyone else doesn’t seem to notice (including one of the mooks on the party yacht). And when the rugged, worldly Javier arrives, he notices it too.
Not in an overtly creepy way. But as his visit progresses, Julija learns more about the past shared not only by Javier and Ante, but also by Nela. She digs in Javier’s travel bag and to her amazement finds a copy of: working week with Javier as the cover star in it. She also discovers a potentially more disturbing object. Her interactions with the mature trio only fuel her rebellion, bumping and jabbing at her sense of self. Although she loves the water, she can’t really handle her family anymore. And as Ante experiences her growing contempt for him, he grows bolder himself.
Kusijanović and cameraman Hélène Louvart share a keen eye for landscapes; this widescreen movie is best appreciated on the largest screen possible. “Murina” is a slow-burning movie, one that ends not in an explosion but with a riddle. Nevertheless, it is one of the more coherent and satisfying narrative releases of the year.
Now showing in select theaters.