- Tom Dawson
- 20 April 2011
Documentary provides a brief look at th style icon, but ultimately lacks depth
Some bold claims are made about the subject of this documentary, the hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, in the opening sequence alone. ‘It’s impossible to overestimate his importance,’ declares one off-screen voice, while he’s also compared to Ali, Einstein and the Messiah. The film’s subtitle is equally hyperbolic: ‘How one man changed the world with a pair of scissors.’
Made in conjunction with a coffee-table book charting Sassoon’s life by executive producer Michael Gordon, this is very much a glossy, rose-tinted cinematic portrait from director Craig Teper. Sassoon, himself still enviably trim and healthy-looking in his 80s, proves to be a charming interviewee, and it’s his revisiting of his impoverished early years which prove the most interesting sections: he spent six years of his childhood in an orphanage, sang in a synagogue choir, and later fought against Oswald Mosley’s black shirts in London’s East End.
The bulk of Vidal Sassoon celebrates his undeniably impressive hairdressing career on both sides of the Atlantic, and there’s no shortage of friends and colleagues to attest to his perfectionism and creativity, and to the social significance in the 1960s of his geometric five-point cut. A shame however that interviewer Teper didn’t probe deeper into Sassoon’s inner world and perhaps explore the latter’s sense of identity after a lifetime of reinvention and self-improvement.