30th Philadelphia Film Festival: ‘Medusa’ Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar


Written and Directed by Anita Rocha da Silveira

Like a “Choose Your Own Adventure’ story, there are multiple films Medusa could’ve been. There’s the mystery film, where Mariana (Mari Oliveira) spends time looking for Melissa (Bruna Linzmeyer), a young woman who was attacked for her so-called promiscuousness. There’s the mentor film, where Mari keeps an eye on Clarissa (Bruna G), who’s new in town and to the church Mari attends, and there’s the crisis of faith film, where Mari starts to question her involvement in the church after a facial scar leaves her unable to meet the group’s beauty standards.

The problem is Medusa doesn’t make a choice but tries to do everything, leaving a lot of started storylines that never go anywhere. Clarissa, especially, is a character who could’ve shaken things up, by offering an outsider’s perspective on the church’s practices. Instead, she’s a convert in no time, giving no real pushback outside of a short bout of homesickness. It’s unclear whether she shared their beliefs from the start or needed some convincing, but her newcomer status doesn’t come into play at all.

When Medusa nails the details it nails the details, and not since Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has shapewear made a better appearance. Mari’s relationship with her best friend, Michele (Lara Tremouroux), takes some genuinely surprising turns and, unless you have an immunity to earworms, Siouxsie and The Banshees’ “Cities in Dust” will get stuck in your head.

While it’s always better to have too many ideas, than have nothing to say at all, Medusa only hurts itself by overextending and some of the films excesses (like holding shots and having characters break into dance) never feel earned or like they serve the plot.

The 30th Philadelphia Film Festival ran from October 20th to October 31st. Click here for the full program.

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