An iconic scene featuring Marsha Timothy as the title character in “Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts”
Photo: Cinesurya Pictures
Delano's film festval tip of the day
During the Luxembourg City Film Festival, Delano will pick its film of the day. Today, that most unique of beasts, a feminist revenge western road movie from Indonesia.
Already one of Indonesia’s most promising directors, Mouly Surya’s third film has given her global art-house recognition. “Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts” is a daring, visually stunning and unique film that borrows heavily from distinct genres but is so much more than the sum of its parts.
The newly widowed titular heroine, played with deadpan grace by Marsha Timothy, is initially seen as a victim. Her small remote home is invaded by a gang of petty criminals who tell Marlina they plan to make off with her money and livestock and, if they have time, rape her. But, fatefully, they first demand she makes them chicken soup. With her dead husband still sitting in a corner of the room, she sullenly submits to her uninvited guests.
Surya knows how to build tension superbly, and the audience soon realises that there will be a twist to this opening act.
Watch the trailer to “Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts”
Marlina then hits the road and meets a series of wonderfully drawn characters, a pregnant friend whose husband is accusing her of infidelity, a woman trying to marry off her nephew, a pair of incompetent gangsters and even a headless ghost.
The unusual landscape of this part of Indonesia lends the film a sense of the truly exotic and is captured beautifully in wide shots by cinematographer Yunus Pasolang. By contrast, the interiors are mostly dark and menacingly claustrophobic. A wonderful score mimics the best of Ennio Morricone and some critics have labelled this film the first “satay western” in homage to the spaghetti western made so popular by Sergio Leone.
It is much more than that, as Surya and her screenwriter Rama Adi constantly chip away at male machismo and deliver a captivating film peopled with strong female characters, plenty of dark humour, a series of truly iconic scenes and a satisfying story arc.
“Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts” is being screened at 9.30 p.m. at Ciné Utopia on Friday 23 February and again at 7 p.m. at the Cinémathèque on Sunday 25 February.