Thomas Hardiman's impressive directorial debut seems to have come to us by way of Peter Strickland and Alan Partridge. Set in the world of regional hairdressing competitions - the stakes thus darkly, comedically, low - his characters are trapped in a claustrophobic conference centre where hairdressers, models and a competition organiser slowly go mad trying to figure out who murdered and scalped the surefire competition winner, Mosca. Accusations of skulduggery abound. Apparently the competition judge was being bought. And Mosca's grieving partner, arriving with their baby, has to deal both with grief AND accusations of infidelity.
Claire Perkins' Cleve steals the show with her almost tragicomic obsession with winning and violence lurking just under the surface, triggered when she realises the fight was never fair. The other star is cinematographer Robbie Ryan, whose camera takes seems to be taking us ever-deeper into this strange obsessive world in what Fouad Gaber edits as seemingly one take.
Is the murder-mystery conceit well-enough plotted and executed? Probably not. But I loved every minute spent in the company of these characters, with their strange obsessions but also their authentic and profound discussions about what it means to be a woman, in love, pregnant, or just plain wanting to do well at the only option of a career that society gave you. Plus, these have to be the most amazing end credits I've seen in quite some time. I cannot wait to see what Thomas Hardiman does next.
MEDUSA DELUXE is rated R and has a running time of 101 minutes. It played London 2022 and was released in the UK this week and in the USA last week.