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), who lives in a remote area of Sumba, an island in Indonesia.

Having lost both her child (which is buried just outside) 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 several men, including Markus (Egy Fedly), who intend to rob and rape her. Marlina turns the tables on her would-be assailants, however, by poisoning the majority (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, meeting her pregnant friend Novi (Dea Panendra) along the way. But two other crooks in Markus’s entourage discover what’s happened and are hot on Marlina's trail.

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 her personal tragedies who nonetheless refuses to play the victim for Markus and his cronies.

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 gives off a definite western vibe as well.

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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