Medusa Deluxe - a stylish debut from Thomas Hardiman
Medusa Deluxe had my attention when I heard it was a murder mystery involving hairdressers. The setting of a hairdressing competition is something I have never seen before in the vast array of murder mystery films out there.
Combining niche concepts with well-traversed themes appears to be a recurring aspect of writer-director Thomas Hardiman's filmography. Medusa Deluxe is his feature debut, but one of the shorts he made, Radical Hardcore, combines his passion for carpets with a love story. The fascination for hairdressing is also evident here, with some extravagant hairdos that define some characters and insight into its history, which provides some apt metaphors.
That's only one aspect of his style. The dialogue is written in a way that captures the everyday gossip at the hairdressers but put into an extreme situation where the subject of gossip becomes who they think is the killer. The cinematography by Robbie Ryan (a frequent collaborator of Hardiman) is astounding, committing to a one-take which makes for a really immersive experience aside from the few obvious cuts masked by spinning around or faulty lights. The set design and the colour grading are visually striking, making its one location full of personality.
My main issue with the film is that it suffers from an abundance of characters, which lessens the mystery's thrill by reducing its clarity. There are characters in this defined by their hair, as there are just so many they don't get much development. With the murder mystery, the answer doesn't feel like it's been set up all that well, with some plot points introduced that don't go anywhere.
That being said, there are some standout characters, with Luke Pasqualino giving quite a moving performance as Angel - the bereaved lover who brings a lot of heart to the film. We also have Clare Perkins's egotistical and manic Cleve, whose rage brings a lot of laughs, but she does have depth to her character too.
So overall, this is rather a case of style over substance. However, when the style is so strong and the substance does the job, Medusa Deluxe is still entertaining and showcases Thomas Hardiman's talents.
Medusa Deluxe is screening now.