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Medusa review – fable of freaky delirium that accompanies life in Brazil’s police state | Film

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It’s flawed and all over the place in conventional script terms, but there’s real interest in this freaky, peculiar, interestingly directed psychodrama satire from Rio-born artist and film-maker Anita Rocha da Silveira, which takes aim at the conformist-authoritarian patriarchy of Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil.

Mari (Mari Oliveira) is a member of an evangelical Christian young women’s singing group called Michele and the Treasures of the World, who (like the Barden Bellas in Pitch Perfect) sometimes squabble when one of their number does some unrehearsed freestyling in performance; their leader Michele (Lara Tremouroux) is impossibly glamorous and blond with a YouTube channel, discussing topics such as “How to take the perfect Christian selfie”.

These women simper over their church’s charismatic and politically ambitious preacher, who harangues them every Sunday, and also over the church’s platoon of young male volunteer street vigilantes who they are expected to marry. But the Treasures have a secret: after rehearsals, they all put on creepy masks (like something by the French shock master Bertrand Bonello) and roam the streets looking for young women out walking on their own – and therefore deplorable strumpets – and beat the living daylights out of them until they promise to accept Jesus into their lives.

Mari becomes obsessed with a notorious supposed loose woman called Melissa who fought back against a righteous beating and sustained terrible injuries in the ensuing melee before vanishing. She gets a job in a hospital with a ward for coma patients, suspecting one of these immobile bandaged figures to be the legendary Melissa, but she senses that something strange is going on. In her increasingly hysterical, hallucinatory state, Mari discovers that the building has a kind of Narnia door into a rainforest of sensuality.

This really is a very strange film, and perhaps doesn’t quite cohere the way a more rigorously refined and redrafted screenplay might, but each of its exotic elements suggests a mounting delirium – exactly the kind of unacknowledged, displaced group frustration that grows and metastasises in a police state.

Medusa is released on 14 July in UK and Irish cinemas and on digital platforms.


It’s flawed and all over the place in conventional script terms, but there’s real interest in this freaky, peculiar, interestingly directed psychodrama satire from Rio-born artist and film-maker Anita Rocha da Silveira, which takes aim at the conformist-authoritarian patriarchy of Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil.

Mari (Mari Oliveira) is a member of an evangelical Christian young women’s singing group called Michele and the Treasures of the World, who (like the Barden Bellas in Pitch Perfect) sometimes squabble when one of their number does some unrehearsed freestyling in performance; their leader Michele (Lara Tremouroux) is impossibly glamorous and blond with a YouTube channel, discussing topics such as “How to take the perfect Christian selfie”.

These women simper over their church’s charismatic and politically ambitious preacher, who harangues them every Sunday, and also over the church’s platoon of young male volunteer street vigilantes who they are expected to marry. But the Treasures have a secret: after rehearsals, they all put on creepy masks (like something by the French shock master Bertrand Bonello) and roam the streets looking for young women out walking on their own – and therefore deplorable strumpets – and beat the living daylights out of them until they promise to accept Jesus into their lives.

Mari becomes obsessed with a notorious supposed loose woman called Melissa who fought back against a righteous beating and sustained terrible injuries in the ensuing melee before vanishing. She gets a job in a hospital with a ward for coma patients, suspecting one of these immobile bandaged figures to be the legendary Melissa, but she senses that something strange is going on. In her increasingly hysterical, hallucinatory state, Mari discovers that the building has a kind of Narnia door into a rainforest of sensuality.

This really is a very strange film, and perhaps doesn’t quite cohere the way a more rigorously refined and redrafted screenplay might, but each of its exotic elements suggests a mounting delirium – exactly the kind of unacknowledged, displaced group frustration that grows and metastasises in a police state.

Medusa is released on 14 July in UK and Irish cinemas and on digital platforms.

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