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MEDUSA (2021, BRA) – 6.5/10

Another subversive and provocative dystopia comes to us from Brazil, with which it seems as if the authors there are trying to speak allegorically and satirize reality. Anita Rocha de Silveira won the prize for the best Latin American film at the festival in San Sebastian for “Medusa”. It takes us to the Brazil of the near future, which is more reminiscent of an Islamist Jamahiriya like Iran, rather than a democratic country like Brazil. The creation of “Medusa” was inspired by a veritable flood of various radical evangelical Christian congregations that call for the abolition of secularism and the construction of an orthodox state in which everyone will adhere to almost the Old Testament rules.

Thus, in the shocking introduction, which seems a bit like an inversion of Kubrick’s cult “A Hell’s Orange”, we see a group of masked girls who intercept a young woman on the street and savagely beat her. We soon learn that the group of these young vigilantes is a group of young Christian fundamentalists, fanatic influencers who attack sinners and film them beating them on the street. In addition to the female squads, there are similar male squads of beatings, real volunteer chastity squads, who roam the streets at night, looking for heretics and beating and killing them. Mari (Mariana Oliveira) and Michele (Lara Tremoroux) are best friends, members of a church choir who sing church-propagandist songs and spread love for God, but also hatred and disgust for everyone else.

They were brought up in such a hypocritical society, which propagates chastity and purity and despises and literally tramples on everything that is not such. Their special motive is finding Melissa, the most promiscuous girl in Brazil, a beautiful model who was once disfigured by one of their predecessors who poured acid on her face. After that, Melissa disappeared and Mari tries to find her, and her life will completely change when she gets a huge scar on her face during a night attack. Because she is no longer beautiful, she will lose her job at a plastic surgery clinic, and then, in search of Melissa, she will find a job at a hospice that houses people in comas.

However, instead of Melissa, she will meet others there who have completely different views on life, and this will slowly push her to start questioning everything that she considered the right and only way until then. This will lead to her maturing and conflict with Michele and her other friends, but little by little, the tight grip of fundamentalism and propaganda that has brainwashed them all, will have to loosen. As the name suggests, “Medusa” is a film full of symbolism, a stylized highly aestheticized neon dystopia spiced with synthesizer music dominated by the color pink. Just like in the Greek myth of Medusa, whose hair was turned into snakes by the goddess Athena and her beautiful face was disfigured so that everyone who looked at it turned to stone after she broke her vow of celibacy, this will also happen to Mari on a symbolic level.

Solid Rocha da Silveira here satirizes and criticizes that vain, superficial society obsessed with physical beauty, and completely devoid of spirit, sense and feeling to try to think for itself. A society that takes everything that is served to it for granted, does not even question whether what is presented to it is accurate and correct, and does not even try to come to its own conclusions. All of this nicely symbolizes the world we see in “Medusa”, a world of completely brainwashed people willing to do horrible things because the easiest thing to do is go with the flow and behave like the rest of the pack. It was a solid dystopia in which I still lacked something for a better rating.