Shampoo

Another smart movie from Hal Ashby about the American middle and upper-middle classes, Shampoo is a sly, wry take on sexual mores of the late 1960s, prominently featuring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie (who appeared together in the earlier McCabe & Mrs Miller and were romantically involved off screen as well as on). Beatty plays George Roundy, a high-end hairdresser in a relationship with Goldie Hawn’s good-natured Jill; he is sleeping with other women, though, and pines most for his old girlfriend Jackie (Christie), supposedly the only woman with whom he has been in a serious relationship. Complicating matters further, George’s mistress Felicia is married to his potential new business partner Lester, a man who is currently having an affair with Jackie. (In simple terms, barring a couple of exceptions, everyone in the film is sleeping with at least two other people.) The characters here are less likeable than those in Ashby’s other films of the era, save for Hawn’s, who is portrayed for much of the film as a naive woman who will put up with just about anything, but is actually one of the first and only people who sees George for what he truly is. As a protagonist, George isn’t particularly sympathetic, but Beatty certainly looks cool at times as he cuts a swath through LA on his motorbike, all frilly shirts and big hair billowing in the wind. The film’s downbeat ending is deliciously at odds with the preceeding frothy, light and rather amusing comedy. (***½)