Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (2017) – A Satay Western

Actually, Indonesia has a variety of uniqueness when talking about art, especially in the fields of film and comics. Indonesia must appreciate Indonesian films more. One of them is a comic book where they still consider as a kid stereotypical. In fact, they are famous for being outside instead of their own country. So, who should be blamed? The market? The audience? Nothing. “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” is an Indonesian film that isn’t like ‘Indonesia’ itself, doesn’t seem cheap. It’s just one thriller that makes me terrifying from the beginning to the end.

The impression shown in this film isn’t in the form of a gimmick. Rather, it’s like Sergio Leone if making a western film uses a thick Indonesian culture. It’s a movie that elevates women’s degrees and feminism. Men described the true antagonist than others. In this era, our honor as men for women doesn’t really exist. Mouly Surya considers that in this era, we often hear many crimes related to women and women again. Words were unable to describe everything. “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” is a thriller more than that. This movie combines cultural impressions which are thick with its accents, setting, costume design, and truly terrifying acting, it’s a movie which seems to impress westerns with their own culture.

There are not many cinemas in Indonesia that show it. Regardless of which, this film premiers internationally. It’s rather difficult to participate in marketing regardless of the market and depending on how popular the movie itself. At least, this film won many awards at international events, especially best cinematography in the Asia-Pacific Film Festival, NETPAC Award in Five Flavors Film Festival, best picture in QCinema International Film Festival, best actress for Marsha Timothy in Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival, and other awards with nominations. “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” isn’t a film that can only be watched by everyone. You can watch this film if you are 21 years old or above. Or, if you can hold all explicit content in this film.

As with the title, there is four parts narrative of this film: the robbery, the journey, the confession, and the birth. It tells Marlina played by Marsha Timothy, a 35-year-old widow who lives alone with a mummy from her husband lives in a house on a hill in the interior of Sumba. From the beginning of the film, the mummy seemed to just stay there. The horrible look doesn’t make this film bring up its tragedy.

The first opening scene opened with Markus played by Egy Fedly, a black hair with a thug-like. In essence, we know that he isn’t a kind person. He is a man who will take everything the victim has. While waiting for other friends to rape Marlina, she did a truly brave act. When Mark raping her, she cut off Mark’s head. He added, he took it. The movie is about traveling in search of justice, women’s strength, and forgiveness of sins. Marlina can be forgiven by her actions or vice versa.

This memorable movie is like a Quentin Tarantino vibes thanks to the four acts which are usually done by the director. This doesn’t seem to be a special case, especially for Indonesian films. The act is kind of like a symbolism related to the woman. Robbery acts as a struggle. The journey as a justice. The confession as a penance. The birth as a new life. Its simplicity is able to make this film not only seem minimalist. What makes this film so close to the audience out there seems like an Oscar-worthy film. It deserves to be in the category of Best Foreign Language Film for the next year.

A rural landscape that seems thick to Indonesia in East Nusa Tenggara. The beauty of the place with has a very large effect. The cinematography which reminds me a little of David Fincher and the transition between frames and frames. The acting, the framing, the editing and the score that impressed Ennio Morricone’s vibe. Just amazing for Indonesian films like this. Mouly Surya is like Sergio Leone but a western which so thick with its cultural elements.

From the beginning, this was a film about women and feminism. The main character, Marlina, seeks a justice while holding Mark’s head which she has cut off. There is a slight moment when it comes to that. People are afraid of it and some consider it an element of religionism. She wasn’t only afraid of the rest of Mark’s friends or the police who would know her actions. What made her even more afraid was that she was always haunted by Mark’s headless existence. After burning Mark’s Jungga, she was always haunted by the song sung by Markus.

Be reminded in the head, the audience is like that. Marlina who felt haunted, especially the audience who felt it too. Besides Marlina, there is Novi played by Dea Panendra. She is a side character who is more focused on the last arc. Novi herself had difficulties because of her 10 months of pregnancy, but it wasn’t born. In a really narrow circumstance, her husband who is so sensitive makes Novi feel crushed. The symbolism of Mark ‘head is an implication of a woman. When a man is seen with a strong character, Marlina is shown as a brave person. Just like the head, she is carrying. People are afraid of her as well as she is. That’s what makes her encouraged to seek justice. It’s a people’s view of the culture.

In addition to the director herself, she was also assisted by Rama Adi and Garin Nugroho as the scriptwriters. The manuscript they wrote is somewhat ‘sensitive’ in a variety of views, especially for mainstream audiences. It will lead to a meaningless debate about this film that isn’t too related to the film. In addition to this film, a western with local wisdom impresses. Yudhi Arfani and Zeke Khaseli’s score bring the audience into a cowboy rural landscape. Yunus Pasolang’s cinematography at this point is an eye candy for most people. it shows Sumba as a truly beautiful landscape.

He also always uses a fixed camera that is so symmetrical between one to another frame. This film is also supported by phenomenal performance. Marsha Timothy as Marlina is emotionless, a character who attracts viewers to participate in the tragedy and irony. She beating Nicole Kidman at the Sietges Film Festival in Germany in 2017 as best actress. Marlina was a quiet character but was able to become a representative for today’s women. Yoga Pratama as Franz is just spectacular along with Dea Panendra as Novi who appeared brilliant.

“Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” is a very powerful film yet with dark humor. There are some scenes that touch how women are seen in the present. In other words, this is one of the films which braves to raise its sensitive theme. It’s capable of presenting an amazing visual for the eye. Supported by all aspects available yet so powerful, “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” is a satay western. The theme of revenge but is able to bring its cultural and geopolitical roots. A so wide location but feels cramped. With the feminist aspect that’s able to change a view, it’s a stylistic movie with fascinating spectators to watch.

4 out of 5 stars.