Blow Dry

Blow Dry


Reviewed by: Gabriella Trybalska

A film about hairdressing. PLEASE don't let this be another Big Tease. Thankfully, this dark comedy from director Paddy Breathnach is not. Blow Dry is a plain and simple story about families.

Phil (Alan Rickman on top form) and Shelley (Natasha Richardson) were once a champion hair cutting team until she ran away with their model Rachel Griffiths. Ten years on, they still live in the same village.

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Moody and middle-aged, he now runs a barber shop with the help of their son, Hartnett, while she, battling against cancer and bald (she wears a wig), keeps a hair boutique. Of course, there is not quite enough hairdressing there to keep a movie going for 90 minutes so a hairdressing competition comes to town. Cue camp men with ridiculous- coloured clothes and, well, hair.

So there is the plot. Well most of it anyway. The rest follows a familiar formula: Shelley is told she is going to die and, egged on by a blind client, has to make everything right with her family by entering the hair competition and, of course, winning.

One unexpected aspect is Warren Clarke's ludicrously over-the-top performance as village mayor. The further the competition goes, the further he goes with his bizarre Elvis tribute look. It's the new century don't you know, sir?

Why is it that Americans find it so difficult to grasp the regional English accent. Britain's finest tend to relish in the challenge of taking on the twang, but their colleagues across the water don't seem to be as enthusiastic. Here, Hartnett tries his best and, to be fair it isn't entirely bad. The first few lines he speaks are impressive and had this reviewer doing a double take to try to remember where he was born: was he really American? The answer is yes as after the initial scenes he seemed to slide in to Brad Pitt territory (think Seven Years in Tibet).

His scissor-happy character Brian is born to cut hair and spends a lot of time talking to dead people, and cutting their hair of course. While he is attracted to the idea of winning the competition, he is also attracted to the daughter (Rachel Leigh Cook) of Dad's old enemy Ray (Bill Nighy). Natasha Richardson and Rachel Griffiths make a believable lesbian couple.

Forget the rest though, the real star of this movie was Alan Rickman. His prolongued brooding over his missus running off with her missus is spot on. He plays the grumpy, tortured soul all too well (see The Voice of God in Dogma) and for a minute, it's not too clear if he will step in and save the day.

But of course he does, and he creates the most mind boggling hair creation, "Sandra" that obviously wins, not because it's completely crap but because it says so in the script. Rickman's character in Blow Dry may be on the thin side but the brilliant tattoo (not telling where and of what) is enough to make up for this.

There is an air of British quirkiness about Blow Dry. The multitude of guest appearances (oh look it's Ned from Emmerdale!) and the little village with it's typical English drabness are quite endearing. This is not really a feel-good movie (how could it be when we know Mum is going to die), but it manages to be a feel-all-right movie.

Reviewed on: 30 Mar 2001
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A hair stylist has her final moment of glory when a hairdressing competition comes to town.
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Director: Paddy Breathnach

Writer: Simon Beaufoy

Starring: Alan Rickman, Josh Hartnett, Rachel Griffiths, Natasha Richardson, Bill Nighy, Rachel Leigh Cook

Year: 2001

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK US Germany


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