With Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, Indonesian director Mouly Surya has created a dark, wickedly funny, feminist western with a unique mixture of haunting imagery, gallows humor, and gender politics.
“A thoroughly enjoyable, visually ravishing feminist Western.” – Lisa Nesselson, Screen Daily
Recently widowed Marlina lives alone on the eastern Indonesia island of Sumba, and her precarious state of mourning is interrupted when a man shows up on motorcycle and lays out what’s about to happen: In 30 minutes, some of his friends are going to show up, take her livestock, eat her food, and have their way with her. Marlina methodically manages to take care of the gang by serving them a poisoned pot of chicken soup, then fells the leader with a machete, mid—coitus. With a decapitated head in one hand and the murder weapon in the other, Marlina makes her way into town to file a police report, but soon discovers that the rigid rules of this arid, rural island’s patriarchal system are hard to break. No ordinary revenge thriller, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts subverts several genres at once, every corner of the story dripping in irony and earthiness and backed up by gorgeous cinematography. (Dir. by Mouly Surya, 2017, Indonesia/France/Malaysia/Thailand, in Indonesian with English subtitles, 95 mins., Not Rated) Other festivals: Toronto; Singapore; AFI | Arizona Premiere