REVIEW: Medusa Deluxe, BFI London Film Festival

Thomas Hardiman’s murder mystery is a refreshing take on the genre in terms of style and storytelling – but does feel as though it leaves a few things unanswered.

This new and sleekly film murder mystery is certainly one of the more quirky films of the genre that I have seen. Instead of mainly focus on getting to the bottom of who has committed murder and why, Thomas Hardiman (who has written and directed it) is more focused on the character’s reactions to the murder and the implication it has on all of them. An intriguing concept – but it does feel as though it leaves questions unanswered, making it feel slightly untidy plot wise.

The plot follows that of a group of hairdressers who have gathered to take part in an annual hairdressing competition which is abruptly brought to a halt when one of them meets their demise, leading the rest to speculate who did it and why whilst waiting to talk to the police. All manner of motivations and actions are explored as the film cleverly (thanks to the cinematography work by Robbie Ryan) and intimately delves into this suspenseful world that Hardiman has created. It is a film that is bold and knows how to build up the suspense beautifully.

What is so interesting about this film is the way in which Hardiman chooses to follow each character individually from place to place as the characters interact with each other, adding to the sense of intimacy as the story unfolds. However, each character interaction feels just a little bit too brief to be completely convincing and can leave you with several questions that are never truly resolved – which is a shame as it would enhance the enjoyment of watching this film unfold up a notch. Stylistically, it feels simple but effective – it has to be said the audience is not quite sure which direction the film is going to take next.

Equally as fascinating is just how consistent and steady the camerawork is throughout, making the audience feel as though they are walking alongside the character and experiencing the turmoil that they are feeling. This is enhanced further by Gary Williamson’s bold production design that brings every individual aspect together nicely.

Throughout it all, the script is edgy and sharp – the interaction between all of the characters increasingly intense but with little of bursts of unexpected humour that gives the audience a brief moment of relief, while highlighting the struggles of the characters to come together in the wake of tragedy.

All the characters are extremely distinctive and strongly written and each performance from all of the cast really reflect this. Particular mentions should go to Clare Perkins as the extremely opinionated Cleve, Debris Stevenson as the equally feisty Etsy and Luke Pasqualino as the flamboyant Angel.

It is certainly a film that knows how to push boundaries effectively – but it still feels as though some loose ends could have been tied up slightly better and really made more of an impact on the audience.

By Emma Clarendon

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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