Set on the eve of the presidential election that put Richard Nixon in the oval office, Shampoo revolves around George Roundy (Warren Beatty), a successful, Beverly Hills-based hairdresser, who has ostensibly skated by in life solely on his good looks, charisma, and easygoing charm with women. Despite living and committing to his girlfriend Jill (Goldie Hawn), George still seeks sex from many other women, often his regular clients.
One thing George has consistently wanted to do is open his own hair salon; one day, he turns to Lester and Felicia (Jack Warden and Lee Grant), a wealthy, local-area couple. However, another problem emerges for George and that is the fact that Lester's current mistress (Julie Christie) is one of George's former girlfriends. Lester just outright assumes George, because of his appearance and choice of occupation, is gay, and doesn't see him as any legitimate sexual threat. It isn't until George becomes closer to Lester, meeting his wife, rekindling things with Lester's mistress, and even becoming entranced with select other women that George succumbs to furthering his pedigree as a sexual deviant.
Shampoo subtly evokes the breakdown of the limiting and often sexually regressive sexual politics and standards of the 1960's; it plays similar instruments as Paul Mazursky's brilliant and underrated Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice where the very nature of its plot is subversive because it takes a sensitive, introspective camera into characters' bedrooms rather than simply closing the door on it. It's a period of time in American cinema that I cheekily bill "what I do in the bedroom is all of your business," due to the liberal mindset and furtherance of sexual freedom, orientation, and behavior in public. In the contemporary, sex is still a social taboo in America, but with each year, be it what is accepted by the MPAA, or what is casually discussed by young people in a serious, social setting, the stigma of sex is continuing to be broken in many ways.
Shampoo looks at the social mores by picking a character who is contemptible not because he loves his sex but because of how dishonest he chooses to be. There's nothing wrong with having multiple sexual partners, nor is there nothing inherently wrong with practicing polygamy or sleeping around. There is something wrong, however, with being dishonest or deceptive about it, which is what George consistently is. With that, screenwriters Robert Towne and Beatty seem to recognize this, and Beatty himself seems to recognize it as he's playing the character. Nonetheless, he challenges you to like him largely by the quick-witted and zippy way he moves and conducts himself, as well as the way he works and entertains his clients. He may not be an easy character to like, but he's not an easy character to write off.
With that, Beatty gives an entertaining performance and effective turns an ensemble film into what could easily be mistaken as a one-man show, if it wasn't for the significant presences of Goldie Hawn and Lee Grant, specifically Grant who winds up having some strong scenes with Beatty during more pivotal moments of the film. These inclusions make Shampoo more likable throughout all the contemptible attributes of the film, and the film winds up addressing sexual politics in a way that doesn't tell the audience, but show them. It sort of walks in circles, not always coming to a clear point, but Beatty's performance and its more subtler approach to the material is enough to make it, if nothing else, a thematically and fundamentally interesting piece for the time.
Starring: Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn, Julie Christie, Jack Warden, and Lee Grant. Directed by: Hal Ashby.
Comedy / Drama
Comedy / Drama
Thirty-something George Roundy is a Beverly Hills hairdresser, who spends as much time sleeping with his female clients as he does doing their hair. Whether they want to admit it, all the women in his life are on the most part aware that they are are not the only one with whom he is sleeping. And some, such as the wealthy and married Felicia Karpf, have a stronger emotional dependence on George than they would like to admit. George's current girlfriend is Jill, an up and coming actress. Jill's best friend is Jackie Shawn, one of George's old girlfriends who left him because he couldn't make a true commitment to her. In turn, Jackie is currently having an affair with Lester Karpf, Felicia's wealthy businessman husband. George is unhappy working at a salon owned by Norman, with whom he is constantly butting heads. In his first act of wanting finally to be a grown up, George wants to open his own salon, but doesn't have the financial resources to do it, and no bank will lend him money ...
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October 22, 2018 at 02:39 AM