Tom Hardiman on Buzzy Locarno’s Medusa Deluxe

Tom Hardiman will direct Medusa Deluxe, a delightfully dark crime thriller set in a competitive hairdressing competition soon to be held in Locarno.

MUBI holds the rights for Great Britain/Ireland, France,Latin America, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, India and Southeast Asia. The film was developed and financed by the BFI and BBC Film.

“Hairdressing is really close to my heart, it’s something I’m really passionate about,” admits Hardiman, who has “appropriated her language” over time.

“When they talk about Russian fabrics [in the film], that came from a barber in Peckham. A lot of them say, ‘I’m a hairdresser first, then a consultant.’ It’s a unique territory, but it also has an acting side. They listen to someone’s problems and then bitch around the corner.”

Hardiman, who tells the story of a broken community that is reunited through a shared passion, worked with famed hairstylist Eugene Souleiman on the film’s lavish hairstyles.

“He lets you see behind the curtain, which is why I approached him – so many hairstyles are shown in the middle of the film,” he says, comparing Souleiman’s work to “modern sculpture”.

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Medusa Deluxe
Courtesy of Tom Hardiman

“At some point there’s this cathartic moment, two people who really care about each other and you have this hairstyle with a boat on top. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he notes.

“To take care of almost everything, including film, is absurd and funny. I just appreciate people who are passionate to the point of obsession.”

Hardiman envisioned character-driven drama in the vein of Altman and Linklater, and decided to eavesdrop on his cast in “places of vulnerability” in dingy rooms and dark corridors – far removed from glamor and glitz. Never really focused on the actual investigation, though the unexpected tragedy constantly hovers over everyone’s sprayed heads.

“Something happens when a policeman comes. It changes the atmosphere. I prefer people who just take a backseat. Security guards or, yes, barbers, who are far more interesting than they give credit for.”

While he wanted his feature film debut to feel authentic and touching, it sizzles with humorous exchanges and mentions of “cheeky chignons.”

“My first short film was about carpets and my second about lazy eyes. I just like comedy,” he laughs.

“Hair is culturally important; It’s about how you want to present yourself to the world. But there’s also the backroom gossip, the funny side of it. If I look at Altman or Loach, or even [Sean Baker’s] ‘Tangerine’ more recently, I honestly think people still crack a joke in their darkest moments. True realism needs humor.”

Shot by acclaimed cinematographer Robbie Ryan, nominated for an Oscar for The Favorite and awarded Camerimage’s prestigious Golden Frog for C’mon C’mon, Medusa may surprise audiences with the duo’s visual choice.

“I used to babysit my nieces and they were happy to watch a YouTuber walking around their apartment for a full hour. I felt like there was something unique there,” says Hardiman.

“We wanted this film to feel naturally happy, but we wanted it to feel now. There’s a reason we shot digital. Robbie has a gift – his pictures really make you “feel” a person. When I looked at him during the shoot, all I could see was a smile. We both set out to do the same thing: bring love and joy into people’s lives.”

Hardiman is currently working on a new film about finance and delves into the world of economics and finance. Hardiman will remain true to his “obsessive” interests for now, he says.

“Once you’re attracted to something, that level of passion is really interesting. It drives you to do crazy things. Trying to figure out why people are pushed to this point is the basis of storytelling.”

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Tom Hardimann
Courtesy of Tom Hardiman Tom Hardiman on Buzzy Locarno’s Medusa Deluxe

Charles Jones

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