Afro Saxons (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/10/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 84 mins

Watchable documentary with likeable participants but the competition isn't very compelling and you often feel like you're not getting the whole story.

What's it all about?
Directed by Rachel Wang and Mark Currie, Afro Saxons is a British documentary that follows several specialist hair salons as they compete for a place in Britain's industry awards for black hairstyling, the Black Beauty awards. Several likeable contenders emerge, such as celebrity braid stylist Angela Plummer (who credits a Macy Gray song with kick-starting her career), chatty, Birmingham-based stylist Michael Wilson and London-based Asian couple (and reigning champions) George and Apple Kosit, but the film loses a certain amount of tension and momentum when it emerges that they won't actually be competing against each other.

The Good
The film works best as a joyful celebration of black (and Asian) British success: the various salons are clearly thriving, the stylists obviously love their work and the customers are genuinely delighted with the results. In addition, some of the styles are extremely inventive and visually striking.

There's also a lot of humour in the film, particularly whenever Angela Plummer is on screen – there's an amusing sequence where she's working on MP Oona King's hair while King is being interviewed for the film. There's also a welcome talking head contribution from comedian Felix Dexter.

The Bad
The biggest problem with the film is that it concentrates almost exclusively on the (rather tedious) preparations for the competition (including endless photoshoots) and never really explores the individual stories of its participants. Similarly, while various rivalries are hinted at, you often feel like you're not getting the whole story.

The competition sequences are badly handled and are clearly hampered by a lack of adequate access and poor staging of the event itself. As a result, there's no sense of tension or triumph and the awards are such a shambles that even the winners aren't sure their names have been called.

Worth seeing?
Afro Saxons is never less than watchable, but it's poorly directed and not as engaging as it could have been.

Film Trailer

Afro Saxons (15)
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Content updated: 22/01/2018 21:53

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