Blow Dry (2001)
Main cast: Alan Rickman (Phil), Natasha Richardson (Shelley), Rachel Griffiths (Sandra), Rachael Leigh Cook (Christina), Josh Hartnett (Brian), Bill Nighy (Ray), and Warren Clarke (Tony)
Director: Paddy Breathnach


Blow Dry, the latest offspring from the folks that brought you The Full Monty, is another quaint, charming story of old English small-town goodness. I find Blow Dry superior to the irritating TFM though. Maybe because this movie is unabashedly romantic.

It revolves around the National Hairdressing Championship. This year, the Championship is held in the small town of Keighley. The people of Keighley are no-nonsense, simple sheep farmers and all, aye, so they greet this event with a yawn, much to the Mayor's dismay.

In Keighley also is a master hairdresser gone to waste. Phil is still unable to get past the fact that his wife Shelley ran off with their model Sandra ten years ago. Now he and his son Brian perform the simple cut-and-side (or however they call it). However, Shelley is dying of cancer, and it is her wish that she, Sandra, Brian, and Phil can get together one last time in one final (for her) glory: win the Championship. Can they put aside their differences for the final glory?

Of course. This is a feel-good movie, an unapologetic one. Sweet music tinkers in the background at the right moments, and sad muzak crescendoes in sad, sad moments. But it works. Blow Dry is feel-good yummy goodness.

It's not a polished one though. Brian's falling for the daughter of his parents' rival is cute but pretty throwaway. Shelley and Sandra may be lesbians, but at least they aren't the usual sicky-cute politically correct couple here. They actually have - gasp - problems. Okay, they are still a rather cute and perfect couple, unrealistically so, but at least Griffiths and Richardson play their roles beautifully. As for Phil - can Rickman play anyone other than a droll, sarcastic fellow? Still, he makes one fun, droll, sarcastic fellow.

In this movie, hairdressing is serious. It's like a martial art competition. However, this aspect is underplayed in favor of saccharine moments. I don't mind that. I even gasp and shed a few tears at the ending, a rather pretentious "nude is cool" moment every movie intending to Make A Statement about Art and Individuality tends to have (so much for individuality).

All in all, Blow Dry is fluff. But it's good fluff, and the brilliant cast pulls it off. The ending moments are tinted pink (don't worry, the movie makes sure that the audience are crying from happiness, not sadness), but I come out of the cinema feeling that, hey, life isn't too bad, really. Nothing body tattoo and full frontal nudity can't fix.

Rating: 84


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