Phoebe Moore applies feathering to Rachel Carey’s debut feature Deadly Cuts.
Part farcical pantomime, part social satire, Deadly Cuts directed by Rachel Carey (Nice Night For It, 2017) sits on a slightly blunt knife edge between two opposing identities. Set in the fictional ‘Piglinstown’, a deliberately thin veneer for any number of Dublin’s countless overlooked suburbs, the film takes its name from the town’s proudest of businesses, the hair salon. Working in this gem of quick scissoring and quicker wit are four coiffed and sassy women; Gemma, Chantelle, Stacey and, the Queen bee of the barnet, Michelle. The formidable foursome are wonderfully realised in Lauren Larkin, Shauna Higgins, Ericka Roe and Angeline Ball.
It’s tough being a hairdresser and even tougher doing so in an overlooked suburb run by Deano (Ian Lloyd Anderson)’s fearsome gang. This Dub-style mafia – in air max and Marlboro rather than Versace and habanos – successfully lord it over the residents, demanding ‘protection money’ at every turn. The salon’s only hope is to win the much-revered hair styling competition, ‘Ahhh Hair’ (possibly named after my reaction to said plot point). The competitors at this event would presumably make any gang run for the hills but it is this pinnacle of hair design showmanship which will meet the story at its crescendo. Expect forced stereotypes, salacious comments and stinging snobbery at this, the beehive of hairy moments and, it seems, characters—Louis Lovett is D’Logan Doyle, the hirsute and narcissistic judge.
With equal lampooning across both sides of the social class divide, this film features characters to rival the most ridiculous Ross O’Carroll Kelly sketch. It’s not just Dublin’s infamous north vs south side that this film takes aim at, gentrification comes under the blow dryer too: sleazy politician Darren Flynn (Aidan McArdle) is dollar-eyed at the thought of bulldoz—ahem—‘redevelopment’ with hardly a thought spared for the community at stake. This film may hold a mirror up to society but Deadly Cuts certainly isn’t offering any quick fixes or new insights into the flaws of Ireland’s political and social system. After all, “it’s a hair salon not the poxy Irish Times, ya muppet.”
Deadly Cuts is in cinemas from 8th October 2021.