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Shampoo (1975)

Director:
Hal Ashby
COUNTRY
USA
GENRE
Drama/Comedy
NORWEGIAN TITLE
Shampoo
RUNNING TIME
109 minutes
Producer:
Warren Beatty
Screenwriter:
Robert Towne
Warren Beatty


Cast includes:

CHARACTER PERFORMER RATING
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

 

Review

Hal Ashby, Robert Towne and Warren Beatty were the dysfunctional 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 early in 1974. With the compliant director Hal Ashby onboard, 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 business for its outright and unconcealed banter with the easygoing, morally ignorant Hollywood way of life. In retrospect, what may be equally interesting about this satire, is the undoubted 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.

When it comes to form, thematics and characters, Shampoo epitomises 1970s filmmaking. Ambiance takes precedence over dramaturgy, and the art direction team were justly nominated for an Academy Award. The same went for Towne/Beatty whose best achievement with the writing here is the situational and satirical comedy. In this respect, Shampoo undoubtedly has its fair share of spot-ons as the emotionally handicapped Beatty rides his motorcycle from one mistress to the next, with his fashionable hair fluttering appropriately. A few of the character relations come off as highly improbable, but if anything this only underlines the film's thematic core. However, what Shampoo eventually does suffer from is that it is too lightweight to come off as serious and too serious to be really charming and fun. As such, it works better as a stylish anecdote than as a full-blown feature film.

 

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