Marija Screen 4 articles

Marija

2016

Marija Poster
  • Although the drab locations and politely agitated camerawork are presumably intended to confer verisimilitude and immediacy onto the hackneyed plot, any sense of being immersed in real life is quickly dispelled by the artificiality of the dialogue and its often overemphatic delivery, with snarled clichés such as “If you don’t screw them, they’ll screw you” or “Why don’t you look for a normal job?” smacking far more of script than street.

  • A crisp, unfussy, morally nuanced portrait of a Ukrainian migrant worker doing what she must — and possibly what she shouldn’t — to get by on the unforgiving streets of Dortmund, Germany. An incisive, confidently unsentimental debut feature for writer-director Michael Koch, this steel-cut slice of life persistently avoids easy ethical dichotomies.

  • Although Koch’s approach does admirably demonstrate in lingering but watchable close-ups and medium shots the struggles of immigrants into one of Europe’s richest countries, Koch does not quite manage the searing, shocking drama the Dardenne’s manage to conjure in their films... Nonetheless, Koch’s film underscores the complexity of the outsider position important throughout many of the films this year’s festival.

  • Marija is emotionally inscrutable: One never knows how much of what she outwardly expresses is authentic and how much is playacting to achieve a desired result. That unknowability, though, and Koch's refusal to judge her for it, is precisely what makes Marija such a consistently gripping character portrait, inspiring and unsettling in equal measure.