Belfast, the 1980s, and in the midst of the province's political strife, barber Colm (screenwriter McEvoy) lands himself a job as the token Catholic in a mental asylum, cutting hair alongside lugubrious Protestant and would-be poet George (O'Byrne). Fortune smiles on them when they encounter The Scalper (Connolly), a purported serial killer who once ran Northern Ireland's only wig-selling operation. Acquiring his list of local baldies presents a golden opportunity to Colm and George, who set themselves up as 'The Piece People', but soon find that any non-sectarian operation faces its difficulties in a society beset with such bitter divisions. How do you stay friends with your Protestant partner when the IRA offers you a deal to become official hairpiece suppliers to the armed struggle? At first glance, this is unlikely material for a Levinson picture, but to give the Yanks some credit they haven't turned it into Oirish whimsy. Instead, the humour's authentically black, McEvoy's dialogue the genuine craic. Levinson's slightly bemused handling sometimes gives the shaggy dog interplay a little too much slack, but you can forgive the occasional scrappiness when the overall combination of daft jokes and a determined statement of reconciliation produces such a disarming one-off.
Cast and crew
Brian F O'Byrne