Vidal Sassoon: The Movie

June 8, 2012 - Talk about timing. Famed hairdresser Vidal Sassoon passed away on May 9, 2012 (prompting some of my younger co-workers to exclaim, "You mean he was a real person?"). A few days later, I came across this 2010 documentary on one of the cable channels, so I felt compelled to watch. The movie features extensive interviews with Sassoon as it traces his journey from an impoverished childhood in London to worldwide renown.

Sassoon certainly led an interesting life. As a small child, he and his mother were abandoned by Vidal's father, eventually forcing his mother to send little Vidal to an orphanage. The family was still dirt poor when a teenage Vidal became an apprentice to London's most fashionable hair stylist even though Vidal's mother couldn't afford to pay the man's usual fee. That apprenticeship set Sassoon on a path that would eventually make his name synonymous with hair.

Though he never went to college, Sassoon engaged in a lifetime of learning. He actively opposed the Fascist movement that arose in England following the end of World War Two. He spent time at a commune in Israel. And, he obviously had the business acumen to run a multi-faceted hair styling empire. He said the one business decision he regretted was selling his line of styling products to a company that was quickly bought out by conglomerate Proctor and Gamble.

Overall review: ** For a man who led the life he did, this documentary is surprisingly boring. It contains extensive interviews with Sassoon, personal pictures, home movies, clips of TV shows and commercials (Sassoon was all over TV in the Seventies), and a glimpse into his charity work. Despite all that, the documentary seems lacking. Problems are glossed over and success seems too easy. I don't think we ever get a sense of what it really took for him to get where he got.