TIFF 2021: “Medusa”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Religion is a powerful force that, if used appropriately, can deliver widespread happiness and peace. But if it’s misused, misinterpreted or abused, it can bring more damage than what words could describe. There are many films that talk about the beauty of religion, of culture and the wonderful things it brings. But there are enough featured pieces that talk about the other side of the coin, and “Medusa” manages to describe it perfectly.

Set in a time when women must be perfect and nothing less. She must earn a man’s respect. She must worship God and be free from sin. Not to mention, she, at any point in time, should not misbehave otherwise she can be called possessed, beaten up and punished so severely, it will take years to patch the broken life.

Mariana (Mari Oliveira), 21 years old, is the personification of an ideal woman. She constantly prays, knows her place in man’s company, and, at night, putting on a mask, hunts and beats up women than do not fit into society and are deemed to be using their body in an unworthy way; even if it is just dancing or acting in movies. However, the time will come when the shouting at women with nasty words will backfire, karma will get those who did wrong. Mariana will reach a point where she must think who to give access to her life – should she be who the Minister wants her to be, disallowing the heart to feel and love, and instead, let negative energy punish those who Mariana cannot be – a free woman?

The rise of radical Christian factions in Brazil gave an opportunity to writer-director Anita Rocha to explore the concept in “Medusa” by combining politics, religion and violence. It’s a dangerous recipe that can be used well only by clever hands, which, luckily for us, Anita Rocha is. Mostly, religion affects women, taking their power from them, suppressing their will and creating a chaotic atmosphere that you will find difficult to be a part of.

From start to end, the exploration of this very idea is phenomenal and will make you think long enough to be freaked out. And that’s the beauty of the cinematic universe – when it paints in a dark color what we believe to be a fascination, eternity, religion and faith. But “Medusa” goes beyond that, by showing only one way possible, apart from everything, that religion is a powerful tool well controlled in hands of influential people who use it only for their own gain.

Mariana and her friend, Michelle, are just marionettes of the big game, being used as pawns. Only if they realize their own strength can they defeat the powerful man. But will that happen or not and what events will lead to it, “Medusa” has prepared a roller coaster ride for you, and only by fastening your seat belts can you sit through to the end.

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