Never comes together

Oh, but I was hoping for too much from this film. The background of a national hair styling contest is an appealing one (something similar working well in the outright comedy The Big Tease).

There is an ensemble cast telling a number of stories among the contestants, but centering on a former husband and wife styling team, who share a son but don't speak to each other because she left him for their hair model some ten years before. And now the wife has learned her cancer is terminal. Cancer has certainly led to some poignant, memorable films, take the remarkable Wit, for example.

The cast also has plenty of potential - Alan Rickman as the husband, Natasha Richardson as the wife, Rachel Griffiths as her lover, Josh Hartnett as their son, and Rachel Leigh Cook as his love interest and the daughter of a sneaky competitor. In particular, Griffiths is at a point in her career where she can choose her roles for artistic reasons, and that seems to have become her strategy.

But somehow all these elements just don't come together. The cancer is a serious choice, and since they don't really deflate it comedically or otherwise, it outweighs the more frivolous storylines. And really, the whole movie merely toys with both drama and comedy, not committing at all to either one, and losing so much energy because of it. The storylines are constructed well, but predictably. We never quite get a chance to care that much about what happens.

Griffiths demonstrates again her willingness to take risks with one particularly extreme hairstyle at the climax of the competition. It's a shame the effort couldn't be more meaningful, and also that the art department didn't spend more time on the costume - it seemed almost haphazard, and not quite as effective as we are supposed to have perceived it.

Sadly, I have give this one a pass - it doesn't quite seem like they tried hard enough.

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