Musee Magazine



Image Above: A Poster from Medeas. (Image from official site)

Medeas opens with an idyllic scene of a family gazing quietly beside a lake.There is the beautiful mother Christina (Catalina Sandino Moreno) who gently and holds an infant, the youngest of her five children, in her arms. The others, a pair of young boys seem to be close pals, and the teenage son and daughter seem to be in the throws of teenage angst and dissatisfaction. The father, Ennis (Brian F. O’Byrne), a strong silent type looks over them all with a protective, yet stern affection. The camera grazes across each of them caressingly in a slow meditative way and there are no words spoken for such a long time that I began to wonder if there was something wrong with the screener which I was viewing. Then it began to be clear that this was partially an indicator of the fact that Christina is, in fact, a deaf mute. That fact seems to have influenced their world in a fairly significant degree. Although Christina appears to have an easy closeness with the children there is a sense of estrangement between her and Ennis. They gaze at each other with unease and mistrust.

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The family live on a dairy farm somewhere in the west with vast open landscapes and we see very little of friends, neighbors, activities, or interactions with the outside world. It is a hardscrabble existence and they are financially strapped. Ennis works hard and comes home exhausted and frustrated. There is a repressed rage in him which flares up and targets Christina and the kids. In one scene he takes away a dog they have found for no reason.

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As we gradually discover there are reasons for the alienation of affection between Christina and Ennis and the mood of ominousness escalates. Anyone familiar with the story of Medea by Euripides knows that there will be no good ending to this story of betrayal and revenge. The beautifully nuanced performances by by Catalino Sandino Moreno and Brian F. O’Byrne as well as the children, which are filmed in such an elegiac Terrence Malik-esqe style by Chayse Irvin provides a dramatic counterpoint to the violence which is lying just beneath the surface. It is a very moody atmospheric piece which finally takes your breath away.

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Belle McIntyre