A simple but clever two-hander, David Brundige’s short Haircut is a well-written fight sequence—verbal, not physical that is—but in a way it is depicted with the same attention to rhythm and space that any good action flick would. In the film a modern couple devolves into increasingly vicious recrimination when, to her partner’s surprise, Lindsey returns home with a new short haircut. Is he being reassuring and supportive enough? Evidently not! and off we go.
We found Haircut to be interesting because, aside from the wordplay, it is a film that is malleable in interpretation. It proved a bit divisive amongst our team, but the lines of that division were also illuminating: were the characters relatable? were they likable? was the argument pre-meditated? Should any of those things matter?
For my money, I found Brundige’s conception of the fight to be darkly satisfying with a bit of comedic pleasure. Both sides engage in bad faith, and Lindsey especially is keen to purposely twist Josh’s words, but that rings true to me—the way that dumb shit provokes confrontations amongst couples that are really about other things (sometimes not even about your partner at all) and the way that the heat of a fight dredges up repressed feelings to be blurted out in order to maximize pain.
While the stylized delivery of the dialogue from its actors, Sophie Traub and
Sharif Corinaldi, hurts the raw verisimilitude of the film, the emotions and beats strike me as genuine. Lindsey and Josh are a cool contemporary couple of good taste, and versed in the language of conflict resolution. They are seemingly above this kind of ugly, intensely personal form of fighting, but this contradiction better illuminates the the crux of the story, the way that resentment breeds under the surface of politeness.
The ending scene complicates all that came before. The idea that the bad faith of the arguments did not come from a place of spontaneity, but instead pre-meditation. Was it a test, or a deliberate set-up? I didn’t care for the ending at first and thought that it undermined what I enjoyed about the film, but further reflection tempered my opinion. Rather than a story about a couple, you realize that it is primarily about Lindsey, and new themes take prominence: how individuality and growth for a person in relationship are repressed in the service of playing nice, the way that power imbalances and domineering behavior can be invisible, subtle and insidious, and how sometimes it’s hard to simply talk about these things. You can’t knock the effectiveness of an ol’ fashioned blowup when it comes to hitting the reset, even if you have to manufacture it.
Brundige is steady filmmaker with the 2010 feature film The Prospects on his resumé, in addition to collaborations with big comedy names like Marc Maron and Derek Waters. A gifted writer and director, he also edits, and is currently performing that function for an upcoming feature from S/W fave Danny Madden, while working on a new feature comedy on the end of capitalism titled Prelude to Anarchy.