Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts Screen 4 articles

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

2017

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts Poster
  • Against the complexity of these works, both Daniela Thomas’s Brazilian period piece Vazante (The Surge) and Mouly Surya’s revenge saga Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, an Indonesian/French/Malaysian/Thai production, are one-dimensional. The former, though strikingly shot, sheds no new light on colonial racism, and the latter shamelessly depends on such stereotypes as the gang rapist, the callous cop, and the brutish husband.

  • Surya seems to have the makings for a kind of feminist Western here, with Marlina fleeing across the sun-baked landscape, on horseback at one point. She is, like so many classic gunslingers, a killer by circumstance, a desperado with an honourable cause. But it’s next to impossible to suss out where Surya is coming from or what she really cares about—which, sadly, seems to describe more and more festival films these days. All the expected parts are there, but in the end they don’t really add up.

  • A revenge fantasy rooted in Indonesia’s gender conditions, complex regional culture and the stark beauty of its landscapes. At once tightly controlled and simmering with righteous fury, it’s gorgeously lensed, atmospherically scored and moves inexorably toward a gratifying payoff.

  • A thoroughly enjoyable, visually ravishing feminist Western played out in the widescreen vistas of rural Indonesia, Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts weaves basic elements into a tale worth telling splendidly accompanied by a sit-up-and-take-notice musical score.