Critic Reviews



Based on 22 critic reviews provided by
So laugh all you want at the proud haircutters of Beauty Without Borders - but don't underestimate what a basic cut and color can mean for a country's future.
The A.V. Club
Mermin presents all this without editorial comment, and her film would be worth watching if only for its look at a profound culture-clash. But it goes one better, and delves into one of those clashing cultures, capturing it in a moment of change that goes far beyond one beauty academy's superficial concerns.
Liz Mermin documents the hilarious, moving and sometimes fractious meeting of diametrically different cultures, one that has suffered unimaginable horrors and one that believes a good perm is the answer to everything.
A spiny, puzzling and highly entertaining film, and whatever you go into it thinking, you're likely to come out thinking something else.
Entertainment Weekly
The documentary takes on its own engaging shape - one of edgy editorial and political ambivalence.
New York Daily News
As they talk between classes about oppressive husbands, abusive brothers and arranged marriages, it becomes clear that the frivolities Americans take for granted can be their lifeline. In this tentatively hopeful setting, a single lipstick becomes leverage.
In an act of "selfless service," a group of American women, backed by industry giants like Clairol and Vogue, open a beauty school in war-ravaged Afghanistan. The anomalies are manifold: Gun-toting soldiers patrolling the streets are visible through the windows as rookie beauticians busily snip, perm and tweeze.
Village Voice
The idea isn't as odd as it might first appear, since running a salon is one of the few socially acceptable means for a woman in Afghanistan to earn an income. The execution, however, evokes a particularly outlandish Christopher Guest mockumentary.
The film's unforgettable stars are the beauty academy's students, women who have survived tribal warfare, Soviet invasion, Muslim tyranny, American bombs, patriarchal families and even Western good intentions with extraordinary grace and fortitude.
New York Post
Debbie, for better or for worse, is the high point of the entertaining but lightweight film, which is better suited to public TV than the big screen. Oh, yes. If anybody should decide to open another beauty school in Kabul, be sure to leave Debbie in Indiana.

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