Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Hal Ashby
Music: Paul Simon
Cinematography: László Kovács
It is a 1975 film directed by Hal Ashy (BEING THERE 1979), stars Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn, and his then-lover Julie Christie, with an Oscar winning performance by Lee Grant and an Oscar-nominated turn by the perpetual character actor Jack Warden, sounds appealing to any cinephile, right? Yet SHAMPOO, not unlike its characters’ utterly outmoded hairstyle, is a mediocre downer, which makes Grant’s Oscar triumph looks like a fishy consolation prize for the sake of her career achievements.
It is 1968, in the eve of the President Election, George (Beatty), a Beverly Hill hairstylist (by the way, no one dares to advise him to get his own flurry hairdo a neat trim), an inveterate womanizer and sex-addict, gyrates around his girlfriend Jill (Hawn) and the cougar patron Felicia (Grant), with other casual dalliances not included. Dreaming of open his own salon but rejected for a bank loan, George is introduced by Felicia to her wealthy hubby Lester (Warden), who might be interested in the investment, meanwhile, he encounters Jacky, his old flame, and discovers she is Lester’s mistress.
Inevitably Jacky and George rekindles their romance, and everyone involved needs an egress out of the sticky situation. Eventually, the obvious loser is George himself, but as we can envision, 30 minutes after the ending, he is back in his habitual mode to seduce another predator in the jungle of voluptuous creatures, it is hard to deny a self-revealing aspect of George’s character is based on Beatty himself (who is the co-writer here with Robert Towne).
More like a personal project for Beatty and Christie, they are not at all in their top form, it it their pillow talk which leaves audience in a state of dumbness and aloofness. Goldie Hawn actually pulls off a renascent awareness of her own worth through maturing from a wide-eyed ingénue to a woman knows what she wants and feels pity on George’s addiction. Lee Grant is ferociously acrid as the lust-driven middle-aged wife encircled with desperate loneliness, an Oscar-win is too much for the role nevertheless; Jack Warden is the token of a winner in a male-chauvinistic world, which proffers a rare showcase for this perpetually sidelined character thespian, in the end, he even dissipates some of the antipathy, which presumably aims towards Lester’s shallowness and the stink of money, with an inherent affinity borders on visceral humility and drool naiveté, his adventure in a hippie party draws the best eye-sensational revelry in the entire film. But after all, SHAMPOO doesn’t live up to my expectation and the ghastly dreadful coiffure, hope no retro vogue will tread back into that era, ever.