dir Paddy Breathnach
scr Simon Beaufoy
with Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, Rachel Griffiths, Josh Hartnett, Rachael Leigh Cook, Bill Nighy, Hugh Bonneville, Rosemary Harris, Heidi Klum, Peter McDonald, Warren Clarke, Michael McElhatton
release US 9.Mar.01; UK 30.Mar.01
Miramax 00/UK 1h30
This film's British pedigree is promising, from its director (Saltwater) and writer (The Full Monty) to the superb cast. And yet the film has been so thoroughly Miramaxed that there's nothing left to please anyone. At the centre is the 20-year rivalry between two award-winning hairdressers: The superstar Ray (Nighy) and the has-been Phil (Rickman). So when this year's championships are held in Phil's town Keighley, the past is reawakened and Phil is lured out of his barbershop for the big competition. But there's more: Phil's wife (Richardson) ran off with his model (Griffiths) a decade earlier, and even though they live next door they haven't spoken since, while their teen son (Hartnett) has fallen through the cracks. To win they must put their bitterness aside and become a family again! Oh, and Ray's teen daughter (Cook) is along for the antics as well.
Not content with even this level of past and present relational complexity, Beaufoy further complicates things with cancer and other characters with various axes to grind. He was obviously going for that Four Weddings ensemble vibe, but despite three solid performances (Rickman, Richardson and Griffiths all think they're in a much better film than this), none of the characters ever emerges intact as a human being. And this fragmented feel extends to the plot, which is so breathtakingly improbable that we can't for a second believe a single scene. Then to make things even worse, the Yorkshireness is completely undermined by cod accents, vaguely wacky locals and quaint settings (that look nothing like Keighley) obviously chosen, like the two teen cast members, to appeal to the Yanks. As a result, it feels like nowhere on earth, captures none of the area's culture or spirit, and just feels contrived and limp. Oh, and by the way, it's a comedy ... but there's not a single laugh in it. To be honest, after the marvellous The Big Tease we don't need another hairdressing movie. Ever!