Rape-revenge, motherhood and ravishing beauty soak this stunning Indonesian neo-spaghetti western.
After surviving a horrifying attack on her arid, isolated farmstead from a group of brutish locals (and making short, bloody work of them in the process), recently widowed Marlina sets out on a quest for justice and retribution, turning modern Indonesia into a sprawling Wild East, where people are more likely to carry a sabre than a cell phone.
As billed in the title, Marlina’s adventures unfold over four acts; The Robbery, The Journey, The Confession, and The Birth, each blending bursts of violence and deadpan humour into a stylishly stark tale of revenge and redemption.
Aided by an atmospheric, Morricone-esque score by Zeke Khaseli and Yudhi Arfani, director Mouly Surya smartly weaves well-worn western clichés with pressing current social issues, highlighting and challenging her country’s shocking women’s rights record. Amongst a furious feminist exposé of macho brutality, the real subject here is patriarchy, and how the lowliest men still expect to get whatever they want from even the strongest women. (Research Chris Coetsee)