The Hairdresser -- Film Review



BERLIN -- The difficulty with Doris Dorrie's jolly and colorful romp "The Hairdresser" is that when the fat lady sings, it still ain't over. She doesn't so much sing, really, as chirp, but she keeps on chirping relentlessly until you wish she'd just eat a wafer-thin mint and explode like Monty Python's Mr. Creosote.

But that's just me. Several at the packed press screening found considerable mirth in the considerable girth of star Gabriela Maria Schmeide. It might be that there's an audience waiting to applaud a woman whose complete denial of any potential health fears from being massively obese comes with a very appealing grin. Women of a certain size, and not a few men, may eat it up like a double helping of ice cream.

More Berlin coverage  

Schmeide plays a morbidly overweight woman named Kathi whose indomitable spirit the film celebrates even as she has to pause at length climbing the stairs to her apartment, requires a rope to haul herself out of bed, and needs the assistance of a stranger in the metro to unzip the back of her dress because she won't be able to reach it when she gets home.

Oh, and her husband has left her, she's a single parent, she doesn't have a job and she has multiple sclerosis. But none of that puts a dent in Kathi's determination to be the best hairdresser in Berlin, and the film follows her as she strives to follow her dream, even if it involves smuggling Vietnamese immigrants across the border from Poland. What?

Screenwriter Laila Stieler finds it highly amusing to have an extremely obese woman taking care of a dozen or so Asian immigrants in her cramped apartment. Not only that, but one of them, a genial chap named Tien (Ill-Young Kim) takes a distinct fancy to Kathi's monumental curves. There's a fairly explicit scene in which skinny Tien not so much makes love to the naked Kathi as gets in amongst her.

Schmeide throws herself into everything with cheerful abandon. We get to see Kathi from the back and below as she clambers naked out of bed, Kathi naked in the bathtub and Kathi lifting major parts of her naked body in order to slather on skin cream. Some will find this diverting, others not.

Venue: Berlin International Film Festival

Production company: Collina Filmproduktion
Cast: Gabriela Maria Schmeide, Ill-Young Kim
, Natascha Lawiszus, Christina Grosse, Rolf Zacher
Director: Doris Dorrie
Screenwriter: Laila Stieler
Producer: Ulrich Limmer
Executive producer: Martin Moskowicz
Director of photography: Hanno Lentz
Production designer: Susanne Hopf
Music: Ivan Hajek, Coconami, LaBrassBanda
Costume designer: Sabine Greunig
Editor: Inez Regnier, Frank Muller
Sales: Constantin Film
Not rated, 106 minutes