The Haircut

Director: Tamar Hoffs
Screenwriters: Tamar Hoffs

Institute History

  • 1989 Sundance Film Festival


As an actor, both in his own films and others, John Cassavetes has tended to express the intense, darker side of his nature. Only in Husbands, and in this short gem The Haircut, does one see the Cassavetes whom his friends and family see: whimsical, funny, preoccupied with thoughts one con only guess at, sad, gracious, subject to sudden flashes of anger, or equally sudden bursts of insight, both usually followed by laughter—an entire repertoire of laughter, ranging from boyish giggle to demonic cackle. For all his fury, he is a uniquely gentle man, always interested in the stories and the emotions of others, no matter who they are.

I want to call him a genius, but he would, and does, say, “There’s no such thing as a genius. It’s just a lot of f*****g hard work and trying to get it.” But watch this no-such-thing-as-a-genius get a rather surreal haircut, and see how much he reveals of himself as he simply sits in a barber’s chair. Because, for John Cassavetes, even in a barber’s chair, even on a few feet of film that hardly anyone will ever see, it’s always the right time to strip a character to its essence and try to tell the truth.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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