Michael Koch's first feature film confirms that cinema is a matter of look. Marija is much more than a strong woman’s portrait, migrated from Ukraine to Germany and totally capable to hold on in a world driven by men. The movie works as a dense dialogue between the camera and the protagonist’s body, played by a terrific Margarita Breitkreiz in her first main role in a movie. The staging often plays with a proximity which owns a deep symbolic value: Koch doesn’t impose his look over Marija’s one, instead he prefers to follow her movements so closely, amazed by the woman’s strength at every turning point.
Divided in two parts portraying the main character’s colleagues and feelings, Marija shows a journey which seems to change the rhetorical representation of a migrated woman: from usual victim she becomes the master of her own destiny. The city described by Koch is a community without a nation, where German people need translators – a sort of jungle where knowing multiple languages as long as the knowledge of one’s own body become instruments of power.
A movie like this wouldn’t be the same without the feverish, wide open Margarita Breitkreiz's blue eyes. Her skinny body, moved by an internal fire, creates a perfect dualism with Georg Friedrich’s quietness, a surprising actor who confirms his being totally comfortable in different roles. These two performances are endorsed by a direction showing its great rigor, both in framing and editing. Even if a first timer, Koch looks perfectly aware about what he wants as a director.