Vidal Sassoon: The Movie

4 out of 5 stars
Vidal Sassoon: The Movie

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

"It was the age of the golden pussy," recalls Vidal Sassoon wistfully in the profile that bears his name---and if the hairdresser's sexual exploits in Swinging London come as a shock, wait until you hear about his days as an Israeli freedom fighter. A labor of love from first-time director Craig Teper, Vidal Sassoon: The Movie unpacks the man's story with a dramatic flair that might be mistaken for Zoolanderiffic, if it weren't so aptly accessible. Taking the subject's lead (via thoughtful interviews with the octogenarian), the movie is a tale of reinvention: an impoverished East End childhood, years in an orphanage, singing choir in synagogue and---most crucially---experiencing shame at his Cockney accent that wouldn't let him through the door of any modern salon. (Not that such emporiums really existed---yet.) So he changed.

Of course, the documentary takes off with his five-point bob, the geometric style Sassoon invented circa 1963 out of pure motion and a vision of empowered femininity. (Can one really say the man doesn't deserve the gush?) For the black-and-white footage of Sassoon working on Mia Farrow alone, the film is crucial for movie lovers, a missing link in the context of cinema studies and a keyhole into the evolution of onscreen style. Teper is less sure-handed on the personal details that his scope would require; the hubristic rise and fall of Sassoon's product line is only touched upon, while a tragic family suicide adds little depth. Even with those loose ends unsnipped, there's much of substance here, as we sail through the 1960s and '70s on a perfectly coiffed permanent wave.

Read our interview with Vidal Sassoon himself!

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