MEDUSA DELUXE: A Polished Crime Film [REVIEW]
Often during the evaluation of cinematic works, reviewers use more or less sophisticated culinary comparisons. I don’t know where this critical manner originated, but I believe that filmmakers could be similarly compared to other artisanal professions with similar success. Let’s take hairstyling, for example.
Comparing a film to hairstyling might not seem exceptionally original, but it can certainly bring a certain breeze of freshness to the somewhat diluted film criticism. The same goes for Thomas Hardiman’s debut, Medusa Deluxe. It’s a film that most likely won’t revolutionize cinema in any way, but it’s worth the attention of anyone who values innovative, interesting, and incredibly stylish solutions. “Medusa Deluxe” is a crime film shot in a single take. You might say that this has already been done before. True, it has, but never so elegantly and in such an environment. But let’s go step by step; let’s wash the hair first before we move on to the haircut. So, what is Medusa Deluxe about? During a regional hairstyling competition, a certain Mosca dies under mysterious circumstances. The building where the competition takes place is locked by the police until all participants give their statements. The intrigue is heightened by the fact that Mosca not only lost his life that evening but also his scalp. Among the hairdressers, stylists, and models, rumors circulate, and accusations are made.
The death of Mosca is revealed to us by the hairdresser Cleave (Clare Perkins) right after a short but fantastic animated introduction. From the moment this character reaches for the brush of Medusa Deluxe, the film remains in a single shot until the very end (or rather, a series of long shots that appear as one continuous shot after seamless editing). This is worth pausing on for a moment. The camera work, overseen by the already acclaimed cinematographer Robbie Ryan (The Favourite, C’mon C’mon), is truly impressive. Although I’ve only watched the film once so far, I will certainly enjoy rewatching it to see how on earth they managed to shoot this and that, how they avoided mistakes that could have arisen from the fact that the rooms of working hairstylists were filled with mirrors? In technical, cinematographic, and editing terms, Medusa Deluxe is impressive and shines like hair treated with TRESemmé products. The camera work harmonizes excellently with the sparse and pulsating electronic music by Koreless at the right moments.
However, Thomas Hardiman’s debut is not without its flaws. While it’s difficult to find technical faults here, the promising narrative premise and portrayal of an atypical environment caught up in a criminal mystery, as well as the skillful navigation between seriousness and humor, aren’t able to consistently evoke similar emotions in the viewer from start to finish. Apart from the aforementioned Cleave, who speaks with a sharp tongue like a razor about the passions, charms, and shadows of hairstyling, other characters, although interesting and extremely extravagant, have too little screen time to sympathize with or not. Perhaps in “Medusa Deluxe,” the focus isn’t solely on solving the mystery of the crime, but that aspect seems to end up either too obvious or overly complex.
Distribution of Medusa Deluxein the United States is handled by the now-famous studio A24. This doesn’t surprise me at all because Hardiman’s debut fits perfectly into their portfolio of ambitious, stylish, and often wild productions. The endorsement of Medusa Deluxe with the A24 logo will undoubtedly support the director’s career development and this is truly excellent news. Thomas Hardiman has shown through his debut that he’s capable of creating something refreshing, remarkable, and refined. And I have a feeling that this applies not only to the realm of indie cinema.