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maryann johanson, ruining movies since 1997

Being Ginger review: caught redhaired

Being Ginger green light

A smartly perceptive and very brave personal documentary diary of one man’s attempts to come to terms with being an oft-derided and bullied redhead.
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m mildly ginger

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

No gingers were harmed in the making of this film. Well, actually… that’s not quite true. American Scott P. Harris, at grad school in Edinburgh, decided to make a little documentary ostensibly about people’s generally negative attitudes toward redheads — particularly redheaded men — but interviewing people in the parks and streets of that fine (and quite ginger) city was all actually a desperate ruse to find a cute gal who likes guys with red hair who might like to go out with him. And in the course of perpetrating that ruse, Harris comes across one obnoxious woman who happily shares her distaste — disgust, even — with fellow human beings based solely on hair color in a way that (I hope) she would never do with regards to skin color. Her casual and blatant bigotry is a little upsetting for Harris… and for me. (As a strawberry blonde, I’m not quite ginger, but I am at least ginger-adjacent, and certainly ginger sympathetic. I also think Harris is pretty darn cute and can’t imagine why anyone would disagree with that.) Mostly, though, this sweet, honest film, more personal diary than straight-up documentary, is a smartly perceptive and very brave public attempt by one man to overcome his own shortcomings: primarily a severe deficit of self-confidence stemming from extreme bullying he suffered as a kid because of the color of his hair. (He’s not exaggerating the bullying, either: when he gently confronts a former elementary school teacher — a teacher! — who said horrible, horrible things to him when he was little, the teacher agrees it happened just like that, and doesn’t seem to realize he did anything awful.It was all just for a laugh.) Invocations of famous and well-loved gingers, such as Ron Weaselly and Prince Harry, are no solace to Harris, but working through his problems out loud does eventually lead him to a new acceptance of himself. This isn’t even a movie about being ginger, not ultimately: it’s about discovering that we aren’t as alone as we sometimes feel, and learning how to love ourselves in spite of supposed “flaws,” which is a virtual hug we could all use from time to time. It’s also a remarkably stereotype-busting peek at male vulnerability, especially when it comes to dating. Being Ginger suddenly makes me realize that we haven’t really seen the revolution in very personal (while still being universal) filmmaking that cheap cameras and digital editing and Web distribution should have brought us. We should be seeing more films like this one.


Being Ginger (2014)
US/Can release: Apr 4 2014

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated PG (contains mild sex reference, mild bad language)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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