Director: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
Stars: Gracija Filipović, Danica Curcic, Leon Lučev, Cliff Curtis
This supremely assured feature debut from Croatian-born director/co-writer Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic works as a psychological thriller and a feminist coming-of-age tale. Filipović is Julija, a teenage girl living with her mother Nela (Curcic) and domineering, bullying father Ante (Lučev) on an island in the Adriatic Sea. Frantic preparations are being made under Ante’s strict instruction for the visit of Javier, a wealthy businessman who may invest in their seaside property enabling Ante to convert it into a high-end tourist attraction. When the handsome old school charmer Javier (Curtis) arrives on the island it becomes apparent that he and Nela have a shared history. Playing the gracious host proves easier than Julija had anticipated as Javier is attentive to her too. While competing with her mother for Javier’s affections, Julija still can’t help kicking back against her father. She is gratified to observe that Javier takes her side. This is a compelling psychological drama which elegantly illustrates the difficulties of women trying to assert their independence and express themselves in a patriarchal environment. All four of the leads are excellent, with Filipović more than holding her own with the older actors as a young woman starting to test, and discovering the limits of her sexuality, while Lučev effectively conveys the feelings of disappointment and impotency beneath Ante’s rage. Cinematographer Hélène Louvart’s beautiful renderings of the blue sea provide the occasional bracing respite from the sweaty drama unfolding on land.