Jul 21, 2017

Medea Redux (Antony Sandoval, 2015)

 ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼ 

"Oh, Jason, what have you done, betraying Medea for the sake of your perversion?" - speaks Creon in a gravelly, menacing, condemning voice, probably from the bowls of the Underworld. At that point, around the eight-minute mark, the viewer has already been plunged into a strange realm of cinematic dreams, wondering the same question.

A creative distillation of Euripides's piece, Medea Redux opens with a gorgeously framed shot of the titular anti-heroine (a magnetic portrayal by the graceful Natsumi Sugiyama) showing a shadow play reenactment of her land's sacrificial ritual to her sons (Antony Sandoval's own boys, Emmanuel and Sebastian). For better or for worse, one child is asleep, whereby the other observes the violent act between papercut puppets with undivided attention.

Medea's spiteful, somewhat enigmatic look at the camera marks the end of the first scene, suggesting that none of it is real, even within the film's universe, and that it is probably a glimpse into her mind haunted by guilt and sorrow. From such point of view, what follows could all be a figment of Medea's imagination - various, oft-opposed mental images of happy mother, hurt lover and vengeful sorceress.

Whether this interpretation is correct or not, Sandoval's deconstruction of a well-known story works like a charm. Focused on the character of Medea, it is represented through the bold, surrealistic combination of film, theater, modern dance and performance art which seems to be inspired by butoh in the final and most impressive act. With the words reduced to a minimum, we are left to the imposing, allegorical visuals that establish dark, otherworldly atmosphere imbued with mythological qualities and complemented by the brooding, non-diegetic music.

Medea Redux is available at Vimeo on Demand.

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