The subtitle of the adoring documentary "Vidal Sassoon: The Movie" — "How One Man Changed the World With a Pair of Scissors" — suggests an exaggerated sense of coiffure consequence. But beyond the love fest of talking heads is a compelling life story that courses through the Depression, World War II and swinging London, all evoked in well-curated archival footage.
"Vidal Sassoon: The Movie," from first-time director Craig Teper and producer Michael Gordon — the Bumble and Bumble founder whose accompanying coffee-table book is a running theme in the film — lacks the geometric precision of its subject's signature cuts. Too often it asserts rather than explores, and halfway through it feels noticeably stretched, before regaining bounce and shine.
Not the last word on the celebrity hairstylist and product mogul, it's nonetheless an entertaining overview.
Sassoon is an elegant, charming octogenarian with a strong social conscience, and the film could have benefited from even more time with him. A premonition of his mother's sparked the apprenticeship that blossomed into the legendary career (with time out for anti-fascist street fighting).
Sassoon says that had he gone to college, he would have pursued architecture. Instead, inspired by the Bauhaus, he chopped off hair by the yard and sculpted what was left, building an international empire from a hotspot Bond Street salon.
Sassoon's bobs still look fresh, and if this portrait overreaches for zeitgeist significators, it makes clear that he led the charge in liberating generations of women from the set-tease-spray beauty parlor regimen.
— Sheri Linden
"Vidal Sassoon: The Movie." MPAA rating: PG for some thematic elements, language and smoking. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.