Monday, September 9, 2013

Netflix streaming tip: Visit THE HAIRDRESSER--Doris Dörrie's delightful, encompassing film

There was a time, if you can remember back as far as I, that the words German and comedy were rarely used in adjacent fashion. Not post-WWII, at least. Fortunately this has changed, thanks to filmmakers as diverse as Rolf Thiele, Fassbinder (whose films were often funny, in addition to much else), Dani Levy (who's Swiss but works in Germany) and Doris Dörrie, who directs and often writes movies of a feminist, rom-com, celebrating-the-other nature. A few years back, Dörrie gave us the lovely, moving Cherry Blossoms, and now she is back with a very different kettle of fish.

In THE HAIRDRESSER, Ms Dörrie (shown at left), along with screenwriter Laila Stieler, tells the tale of an exceedingly plump divorced mom, Kathi, who makes her living via comb & scissors (she'll have nothing to do with the word stylist: "I'm a hairdresser," she insists). As played by Gabriela Maria Schmeide (below, left), Kathi is beautifully but insistently upbeat. Her innate charm and ability to "rise above it," not to mention her beauty, inner and outer, put us firmly on her side (She's got a lovely face and, well, ample body, that she displays without a trace of shame, which goes a long way toward winning us immediately over.)  This is all to the good because, at the moment and in just about every way, her life is going none too well.

Her daughter (Nastascha Lawiszus, above, right) is estranged and would rather be living with her dad; her possible new employer finds her too fat to be considered for an upscale salon; her stop-gap job doing hair at a home for seniors (below) ends badly;

and when she's desperate enough to consider helping with human trafficking to earn enough dough to open her own establishment, she gets involved with a band of Vietnamese refugees, the leader of which (a very charming Kim Ill-Young, below, right) finds her a little too physically attractive.

All this is handled in a most sprightly manner, and the movie veritably zips along. Ms Schmeide holds it all together by virtue of her charisma and personality. And while it is clear that the character here is too fat to be healthy, the movie offers this up clearly, by virtue of Kathi's having been diagnosed with MS.

Still, it's her perseverance that conquers, and I suspect she'll conquer you, too. The Hairdresser, running 106 minutes, is available now via Netflix streaming (and maybe elsewhere).

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