Deadly Cuts: A blast from Irish cinema’s past

Film review: Don’t expect subtlety from this broad Dublin comedy

Deadly Cuts
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Director: Rachel Carey
Cert: 15A
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Aidan McArdle, Angeline Ball, Ericka Roe, Lauren Larkin, Pauline McLynn, Shauna Higgins, Victoria Smurfit
Running Time: 1 hr 31 mins

All sorts of features are profiting from the opening up of theatrical exhibition. It seems scarcely possible that any screen smaller than three-lens Cinerama – or maybe even the acre that Abel Gance used for Napoleon – could be large enough to accommodate the broadness of the comedy in this (what adjective shall we use?) unpretentious Irish movie. All is forgiven, Mrs Brown. In comparison, you carry yourself like Anna Karina in a Jean-Luc Godard puzzler. Did I catch that line right? "I was with that posh bloke last night and my back box is brutalised." How unlike the homelife of Viz's own dear Fat Slags.

Angeline Ball runs the eponymous hairdresser in a working-class suburb of Dublin named Piglinstown. They are assailed from above and below. Deano (Ian Lloyd Anderson), the local hoodlum, is leaning on them for protection money. A local councillor is threatening to demolish the street and – all too plausible this – put up a tourist hotel. Just when things couldn't get much worse, in a significant tonal shift, an incongruously awful catastrophe pushes the film into darker territory. All may be sorted, however, if they can win an implausibly high-profile hairdressing competition.

The salt-of-the-earth toilers have just about pushed their shtick as far as it will go when, as the leader of a high-end competitor, Victoria Smurfit arrives with a bag marked "swag". That is to say the Smurf, damning restraint to the rafters, shamelessly steals the film from under less determined noses. Pauline McLynn is equally irresistible in the role of slant-mouthed accomplice.

As we have already established, the thing is so broad the curvature of the earth hides one edge from the other. Yet, for those of us who have lived through a few decades of Irish film, there is something pleasingly nostalgic about the rawness of Deadly Cuts. It is as if the Oscar years never happened. Any potential offence taken at the roughly drawn working-class characters is balanced out by the even-less-subtle caricatures of southside snoots. The dialogue thuds more often than it crackles, but those thuds can be heard on, erm, Uranus. (Do you hear what he said?) Pull up a chair and get back to how it used to be in the olden days of 1998 or so. Have a Cidona. Act with your arms folded. Upwardly Mobile is on the telly in a BLEEDING MINUTE.


Released on October 8th.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist