Medusa Movie Review and Movie Summary (2022)

The vigilante group traces its origins to the myth of a woman named Melissa, who was the most promiscuous girl to ever live in their city—more sinful than Lot’s daughters. Although she was beautiful, she was a homeless person. One day, a woman dressed as an angel wearing a white mask lit her face on fire, and it is from this purifying fire that young women find their mission. The Christian Church has a long history of using fire to purify the bodies of the living to prepare their souls for the afterlife. Here, then, Silveira finds the horrific echoes of colonialism, from its forced conversion of indigenous peoples to its burning of their land, painfully echoing ever-present.

When one of these cleansing attacks goes awry and leaves Mari visibly scarred, she loses her plastic surgery job and decides to search for Melissa, who she believes is still alive in a coma ward. While on this quest, she meets a new set of people whose point of view and way of life make her reevaluate everything she has held to be true. This of course causes a break up with Michele. It is in the way Silveira deals with this gap that we see the strength of her empathy. If women have been conditioned by patriarchy to control each other, only women can also save each other.

As the two begin to find freedom within themselves and the strength to push back against the abusive men who run the church, other women in the vocal group step into the power they have relinquished. After observing Melissa defying her boyfriends, one such woman whispers to Mair, “Michele, Mariana, Melissa… I once read that girls’ names that start with the letter ‘M’ are names of malicious women… Mary Magdalene .. Messalina … monsters.”

As Silveira’s film seeks to dismantle this very concept of the monstrous woman, and especially how women themselves hold onto it. In Greek mythology, when Medusa broke her vow of celibacy, the goddess Athena turned her hair into snakes and made her beautiful face so hideous that all those who looked upon it turned to stone. Medusa is not a villain, she is a victim. She dared to embrace her sexual freedom and was judged for it.

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