John Wilson’s “Have You Seen My Hair?” is a first-person journey through New York City. It starts simply enough: woman wakes up, heads downtown to get her hair cut, heads home. But at the around the three-minute mark, the film veers into bat country and never looks back.
For six minutes, the viewer is presented with a visual and auditory feast. Wilson captures the sights, sounds and energy of the big city expertly. He uses the first-person camera to great effect. In my experience, first-person cameras are often used by rookie filmmakers who really want to seem like they are doing something “artistic.” But in this film, the cinematography really works. You do feel like you are riding a train under NYC. And when the film goes from realistic to Fellini-esque, you buy it because of the energy Wilson has been building throughout the first part of the film. Plus, it is just so much fun to look at.
If this film has an overarching message, I missed it. But this was not meant to be a plot-heavy film. It is an exercise of visual storytelling meant to be experienced rather then excessively analyzed. At this, Wilson succeeds but for one small, personal quibble. The only time my interest was broken, albeit briefly, was during the obvious plugs for the hair salon that sponsored the film. I can’t fault an indie filmmaker for trying to finance his film, but there is a fine art to seamlessly incorporating the sponsors into the film so it doesn’t snap you out of the film’s thrall. With short films it is especially important, because you risk toeing the line between film and advertisement. However, it was only for the briefest of moments and the film thankfully stayed away from the ad-trap.
Wilson did, however, definitely succeed in keeping me entranced with his vision for a solid six minutes.
“Have You Seen My Hair?” premiered at SXSW 2010, and is available for viewing below.
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