Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

Critics Consensus

Subversive, gorgeously shot, and suitably visceral, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts injects timely feminist themes into a neo-western grindhouse framework.



Total Count: 42


Audience Score

User Ratings: 355
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Movie Info

Marlina (35) is a grieving woman, hard at work all year long to save enough money for the traditional Sumba burial of her late husband; who now sits as a mummy in the living room. Markus (50) knocks on her door and informs her that his gang intends to rob her in half an hour; a promise well kept. Marlina poisons the robbers and seduces Markus. During sex, she beheads him and starts a journey with Markus' bloodied head inside a plastic bag. When the next house in West Sumba is ten to twenty kilometers away, the journey is more metaphorical than real. Marlina fights from kitchen to bedroom to bus, encounters a musical opus and the birth of a child, and finally, behind bars, finds peace. After losing leader Markus, Franz (25) - always Markus' favorite, but with a small build and a high voice - takes the lead on a path of revenge; as Marlina uses their own culture and beliefs against the robbers. Franz wants Markus' head back so that they can bury the corpse intact, a belief that the people of Sumba hold dear and greatly fear. Marlina finally gives herself up to the police and finds peace and redemption behind bars; where she is free from the grief of her guilt, in the form of a headless Markus who has been following her all along, each and every step of the way.

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Critic Reviews for Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (1)

  • To its credit, the film eschews excess gore and mayhem, largely making its points in more subtly incisive ways.

    Jul 5, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts recalls the oaters of Sergio Leone and his brethren, all right, but it upends the usual male concerns for some serious and satisfying feminist payback.

    Jun 28, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's one of those features from a distant part of the globe that seems like it may have been created primarily for Western art houses and festivals, where its exemplary direction and feminist theme are indeed likely to win Surya new fans.

    Jun 24, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Working with the cinematographer Yunus Pasolang, Ms. Surya gives "Marlina" a stark, steady, captivating look that keeps you largely engaged even when the story and your attention drift.

    Jun 21, 2018 | Full Review…
  • A film of uneasy grandeur, at once offhand and gently mythic...

    Jun 19, 2018 | Full Review…
  • With a Morricone-inspired score, gorgeous cinematography that screams to be witnessed on a big screen, and bleak humor, this film's tightly executed, meticulously controlled surface barely contains the seething fury within.

    May 16, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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