TIFF 2017: Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

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Seven strangers descend upon the isolated farmhouse of an Indonesian widow, Marlina (Marsha Timothy) with the intent to steal her livestock, take her possession and rape her. What these robbers do not realize, and as the rotting corpse in her living room indicates, is Marlina is not your average widow. Relying on her survival instincts, she emerges from her home the next morning with the head of one of the assailants in one hand and a saber in the other. This sets in motion a thrilling, and darkly funny, journey in which Marlina attempts to do the righteous thing, while being pursued by the remaining bandits.

A skillfully crafted and visually captivating film, one that will surely bring a smile to those who enjoy Quentin Tarantino’s brand of genre blending, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts is truly a sight to behold. Confidently directed by Mouly Surya, this “feminist spagetti western” infuses plenty of new life into old revenge flick tropes. Featuring strong, and at times, hilarious women, including 10-month pregnant Novi (Dea Panendra), Surya offers pointed commentary on gender biases that still exist within the region.

As entertaining as Surya’s spaghetti western is, the fourth act does not reach the heights of the three which preceded it. In using the final act to shift power, or at least display it from another perspective, it inadvertently makes Marlina the victim she is combating against being. Thankfully, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts‘ minor stumbles in the last act are not enough to derail this invigorating and devilishly fun film.

Screens:
Tuesday, September 12, 9:45 PM, Scotiabank 4
Thursday, September 14, 4:15 AM, Scotiabank 13
Saturday, September 16, 9:00 PM, Scotiabank 9

Tickets can be purchased at the TIFF website.