TIFF Review: Medusa

Since his victory in the elections at the beginning of 2019, President Jair Bolsonaro’s reign has been controversial, to say the least. Styling himself as a South American Donald Trump, his populist and militaristic leadership has resulted in clamp downs on individual freedoms, a rise in corruption and violence, and an elevation of the church’s influence within society. Brazilian cinema has produced a number of thoughtful and angry responses. The latest is Medusa.

Mari (Mari Oliveira) along with her best friend Michele (Lara Tremouroux) are part of an elite group of girls from their congregation who go to extreme lengths to protect the purity of their town.  At night, they don white masks and stalk the streets, looking for sinners to re-educate with their fists and feet. They pride themselves on being the picture of perfect women. However, when Mari is scarred in an altercation it sends her on a journey which will open her eyes to the truth.

Medusa is a biting satire which takes aim at the rise of radical Christianity, conservatism and toxic masculinity within Brazilian society. A country in which women are used, by men, to police the action of over women. Anita Rocha da Silveira’s second feature is a stylish and angry piece of cinema. It’s a bold and inventive way to tackle the country’s myriad problems. Full of iconic scenes and even embracing elements of giallo, Medusa is a ferocious and scathing social commentary.

Medusa screens at Toronto International Film Festival.

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