Movie Review: Good Hair

Chris Rock talks about ladies hair – and it’s awesome

Movie Review: Good Hair

Photo: Press

7 / 10 A documentary about African hair.....hmmm. At first glance, not exactly topping the list of must sees. But don’t judge this film by its seemingly obscure subject matter. For one thing, it’s a surprisingly absorbing topic that will teach anyone of European origin to appreciate what nature gave them, if only for the ease and low level maintenance costs. And for another, it’s written, produced and stars Chris Rock.

Rock’s stand up routines are legendary – he’s a physical comedian of near genius, and a fearsomely foul mouthed attacker of stupidity., Which makes his highly sensitive approach to this warm, and totally brilliant documentary all the more watchable. Chris Rock holds back, and it’s a beautiful, laugh-out-loud phenomena.

Inspired by his young daughter who plaintively asked “Daddy, why don’t I have good hair?”, Rock investigates the multi-million dollar world of black women and their hair, and what a world it is. But for black women, hair is a huge part of their lives – in large part because of the all-permeating images of European beauty that we all hold ourselves to.

Rock takes us through the industry, from scalp-lacerating relaxers (“creamy crack”), the human hair weaves (in which he flies to India to meet the women shaving their heads, supposedly to receive a religious blessing, while the temples sell the hair directly to Los Angeles), to the Bronner Brothers hair show, a three-day industry spectacular culminating in a “style-ff” competition, to the local community barber’s shop, where he speaks to black men about the perils of messing with their women’s weave. It’s an intriguing world, a world in which women who can’t afford it pay thousands of dollars for fake hair and its upkeep, going beyond their means to attain a goal that Rock insinuates is undermining black women’s right to be naturally beautiful.

As intriguing as the details is Rock himself, who doesn’t even appear to be itching to lay down the judgement he obviously feels. It’s obvious the industry, with its multimillion dollar business entrenched in the idea that white hair is better hair, doesn’t want black women to change their perception of beauty any time soon. Rock clearly disagrees, but not once does he cast aspersions – even on the hairdresser who admits to putting chemical relaxer on a child as young as three.

When you add Rock’s quick wit and genius asides to the mix, you’ll make any documentary worth watching. But even without him, this one has enough body to bounce on its own.

Andrea Hubert

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