Thursday, January 14, 2021

#2,527. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (2017)


Directed by Mouly Surya, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts crosses genres to tell the story of Marlina (Marsha Timothy), a widow living on the remote Indonesian island of Sumba. Having lost both her child (which is buried just outside her house) and – more recently - her husband (whose unburied corpse still sits in the corner of her front room), Marlina now finds herself completely alone.

One day, she’s visited by Markus (Egy Fedly) and several of his cronies, all of whom intend to rob and rape her. Marlina turns the tables on her would-be assailants, however, by poisoning most (they demanded that she cook them dinner) and beheading Markus while having sex with him.

Determined to see justice done, Marlina packs up Markus’s head and sets out for the local police station, intent on telling her side of the story. She meets her pregnant friend Novi (Dea Panendra) along the way, who accompanies Marlina for the remainder of her journey. 

Unfortunately, two of Markus's accomplices have discovered what’s happened, and are hot on Marlina's trail, looking for revenge.

As played by Marsha Timothy (who won Best Actress at the 2017 Stiges Film Festival for her performance), Marlina is one of the strongest characters in recent cinema, a woman still reeling from personal tragedies who nonetheless refuses to play the victim for Markus and his gang.

In addition to its formidable lead, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts is often quite funny (even after spotting the severed head that Marlina is carrying, Novi does nothing but complain about her pregnancy), and with its sparse landscapes (beautifully photographed by Yunus Pasolang) coupled with the music of Yudhi Arfani and Zeke Khaseli, the film even gives off a westerns vibe.

Expertly executed and featuring strong feminist themes, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts is one of the most unique, unsettling, and gorgeous motion pictures I’ve seen in quite some time.
Rating: 10 out of 10

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