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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Two thirds of Vidal Sassoon: The Movie is wonderful. One can forgive it
the hyperbole in which it describes and introduces the viewer to
Sassoon, referring to him as a messiah and an essential aspect in the
birth of 60s culture (not to downplay his iconic hair designs but I
think the 60s would have gone on unimpeded even if the five-point cut
wasn't created). Nevertheless, the film makes people, like myself, who
know relatively nothing about hair design and even less about
hairdressers, drawn into the story of an orphaned Cockney hair stylist.
The background of Sassoon's life is interesting and the creation of his iconic hair cut (using German Bauhaus influences) was both educational and entertaining. Sassoon speaks with such warmth and passion that one cannot help but take part in his joy of looking back.
However, the film begins to take continual missteps toward the end. Difficult aspects of his life are glossed over; his three divorces, the death of his daughter to an overdose, the fact that he regrets selling his company, potentially negative views of his strict professional code, are all left untapped. Instead, the film inserts useless information about his health regime and closes by nearly deifying him for his charity work while his fourth wife sings ceaseless praises about his character.
The first 2/3rds build the story of an interesting man, who worked with endless determination to become the icon of his profession. But the film is afraid to let us actually know who Sassoon is. Stopping short of giving us depth by further examination of his failures and tragedies, the film heaps worship upon him. Regretfully moving the film away from being Sassoon's personal history and instead making it his personal highlight reel.
I've seen the film twice - at The Tribeca Film Festival and then again on opening night in NYC. It's a poignant and well-covered account of Vidal's life and career and how he inspired the entire hairdressing industry. A must-see for every hairdresser. And, if you are not a hairdresser (like me) it's still a well-documented and entertaining insight into a man who really changed his craft. Craig Teper does an outstanding job of creating a visually enjoyable film, full of interesting interviews. Vidal Sassoon is inspiring and so enjoyable to watch. He really has a great personality and it's not surprising he has been so successful in his career.
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