the fresh films reviews

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Shampoo (1975)

Hal Ashby
109 minutes
Warren Beatty
Robert Towne
Warren Beatty

Cast includes:

George Roundy Warren Beatty
Jackie Shawn Julie Christie
Jill Goldie Hawn
Felicia Carr Lee Grant
Lester Carr Jack Warden
Johnny Pope Tony Bill
Lorna Carr Carrie Fisher



Hal Ashby, Robert Towne and Warren Beatty were the creative trio behind this scrutinizing film about sex vs. love set in the midst of the sexual revolution and backdropped against central political development. Shampoo was essentially Beatty's brainchild, and so it was for years before production eventually begun in early 1974. With Hal Ashby onboard as director and the fiery writing partnership of Towne and Beatty finally reaching full bloom, Shampoo became both a critics' favourite and a box-office success upon its release. It was hailed by people in and around the film business and the Beverly Hills area for its fairly unconcealed mocking of the easygoing, morally ignorant Hollywood way of life. In retrospect, what may be equally interesting about this satire, is the unquestionable level of autobiography in Beatty's character. Except for the profession and the motorcycle, George and Warren arguably led very similar lives in the period depicted, and few if any of Beatty's characters have mirrored the star as well as George Roundy when it comes to mannerisms and personality. It's narcissism on an intellectual and self-critical level; the latter of which requires a lot more self-examination than what most people of Beatty's status is capable of.

In form, thematics and characters, Shampoo epitomised a certain fraction of 1970s intellectual filmmaking, in which the characters and situations are constantly self-referring and the comedy is understated. Beatty's George Roundy is like Woody Allen's persona with sexual confidence. In Shampoo the ambience is more important than the plot not only for the movie, but also for how the characters lead their lives. When the emotionally handicapped Beatty rides his motorcycle from one mistress to the next, with his fashionable hair fluttering appropriately, always knowing how to look, but rarely what to say, the writing team of Towne and Beatty tapped into something that resonated with American audiences. And if a few of the character relations come off as rather improbable, this only underlines the film's thematic core. And even if the film certainly is a time capsule first and foremost, it has an artistic intrinsic value that makes it transcend the stylish anecdote that it seemingly is at face value.

English review: Copyright 24.3.2010 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright 8
.12.2003 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang