‘Deadly Cuts’ Review

If we have to depend on Dublin filmmaking for the year’s first stellar comedy, then so be it. Deadly Cuts is the first feature film from writer-director Rachel Carey, but it certainly won’t be the last. Somehow she’s created a black and blue comedy that plays like a mash-up of Zoolander (2001) and Blow the Man Down (2018), two films I feel sure had not previously been mentioned in the same sentence.

Piglinstown is a small, working-class community in Dublin…the metaphorical “other side of the tracks.” Michelle (Angeline Ball, The Commitments, 1991) runs the salon, and is just one of the local businesses being threatened by gang activity and gentrification driven by greedy politicians. Michelle’s staff includes Stacey (Erika Roe, Herself, 2020), a stylist who believes winning an upcoming competition can not only save the salon, but also her dreams of finally being accepted by the mother that deserted her many years ago; Gemma (Lauren Larkin), the in-house amateur psychologist and therapist; and Chantelle (Shauna Higgins, “Red Rock”), a socially awkward wizard with hair color. It’s a motley crew of women who are stronger than they think and display a camaraderie that defines small businesses and small towns.

The ladies embrace the upcoming “Ahh Hair” competition as their road to salvation, where a win would boost the salon’s reputation and make tearing the shop down for luxury apartments an unthinkable act. The problem is that the annual competition is consistently won by the posh shop where Michelle once worked before a catastrophic on-stage occurrence many years ago. The high-end shop is now run by her hilariously intimidating rival Pippa (Victoria Smurfit, “Marcella”). This becomes a bit of a parody of class distinction between Dublin’s north and south side.

But there is much more here than the hairstyling competition. Some of the grit of the working class rears its head one evening when the gang leader threatens the ladies of the salon. One thing leads to another and soon the shop has earned its name, “Deadly Cuts.” Although crime and violence play a role here, the gore is minimal and mostly occurs off-screen, and even packs its own level of humor. Ms. Carey loads up her script with a slew of one-liners, each expertly delivered by a cast that embraces the cinematic lampoon. “The hair tongs are heating up” is merely one example of what is broadcast by FAD TV during the competition. For a rollicking good time, check this one out…though you may need the closed captions unless your ears are in full Irish mode.

Deadly Cuts will be featured at the 2021 Seattle International Film Festival.