Murina is the story of Julia, a teenage girl under the thumb of her controlling, abusive father. They live on this idyllic Croatian island, across the sea from Italy. Everything looks like paradise, but for Julia, it’s a gilded cage.
At the start of the movie, Julia goes along with her father’s commands, but her compliance is more the weary exhaustion of an unpleasant status quo. Inside her spirit is unbroken. She knows her father is wrong, she believes her and her mother deserve better.
Then better seems to arrive in the form of Javi. He is her father’s old friend, from their days as young men. He seems to have been a rival for her mother’s affections back in the day. He is a billionaire now, and her father has brought him to the island to bilk him for money with a phoney investment.
When Javi shows up, Julia looks at her mother like, “You had a chance to marry him, and you chose Dad?!” Javi is everything her father is not, kind, considerate, romantic, charming, proficient and wealthy. He is encouraging of Julia and praises her qualities. Julia’s clearly not had this much positivity in her life for a long time, and despite her initial hesitancy, begins to think he is her way out.
Her mother’s a bit more of a dark horse. She and Javi have history, and although she flirts with him and remembers their time together, she is not serious about running away with him. Unlike Julia, she doesn’t have an idealised version of who he might be, she knows who he is. And for whatever reason, has chosen her husband over him. At first she and Julia are on the same page, being charmed by Javi, but they start to diverge as she realises Julia is serious about getting away. She tries to warn Julia that Javi is full of pretty words, but he won’t be there for them, unlike her father. For her, she would rather stay with an abusive man who is determined to keep her, than a kinder man who might let her down and leave her.
Leon Lucev expertly plays the repugnant father. He is narcissistic, petulant, bragging, spiteful, and domineering. He has the mood swings and temper of a child. He sees his wife and daughter merely as extensions of his will whose purpose is to meet his wants and wishes. Despite his rigid control over his wife, he allows her to flirt with Javi as an ends to luring the money from him.
The opening scene of the film is Julia and her father spearfishing murina, the moray eel. While it hides in rocks and crevices, it is a violent prey, and if trapped, will bite at its own flesh to free itself. Julia is the murina of the film’s title. This story is how she bites at her confines, and the lengths she is willing to go to to be free.