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Blow Dry is a 2001 comedy film directed by Paddy Breathnach, written by Simon Beaufoy and starring Natasha Richardson.


Shelley Allen (Natasha Richardson) operates a small hairdressing shop in Keighley named "The Cut Above" with her domestic partner Sandra (Rachel Griffiths). When the British hairdressing championships are awarded to Keighley, Shelley asks her ex-husband Phil (Alan Rickman) and her son Brian (Josh Hartnett), who work in a competing barber shop, to enter the championships as one shop. Phil rejects the proposition. Meanwhile, two-time defending British champion Raymond Robertson (Bill Nighy), finds to his surprise that Phil lives in Keighley and visits him to see if Phil is competing. Phil had once been in the same position as Raymond as two-time defending champion, but on the night before his third competition, Shelley and his model Sandra ran off together. Phil has never forgiven them. However, Brian meets Raymond's beautiful daughter Christina (Rachael Leigh Cook), who had been a childhood friend and is visiting from the United States (where she lives with her mother), and decides to compete for Shelley's team.

Christina is a colorist but is having problems. Brian brings her along to a funeral parlor in the middle of the night, where she can practice on the corpses while Brian cuts their hair for their services. However, during an argument, the two accidentally lock themselves out of the parlor, and the next morning some families find their corpses with shocking hair dyes and styles. During the first round of the competition, Brian is beaten up as a result and is about to quit when Shelley reveals to Phil and Brian that she has terminal cancer, which she has not told Sandra. Phil agrees to coach but not to cut, and he exposes and sabotages a method of cheating that Raymond's team had in place for the second round, which permits the top teams to narrow the gap to Raymond. Christina solves her coloring problems using sheep, but Brian is visibly dismissive of her for helping Raymond cheat.

During the night before the third round, Sandra finds out that Shelley's cancer is terminal, and the team crashes apart. Nevertheless, Shelley recruits one of her clients from a nursing home as her model for the round ("Hair by Night") and wins it, moving "The Cut Above" into second place overall. Phil finally understands Shelley's intent in entering—to bring her "family" together before she dies, not to win—and agrees to do the cut with Sandra that they had intended to do years before, at the competition where Sandra and Shelley ran off. Meanwhile, Christina cuts off most of her hair so that she cannot participate in her father's scheme for the final round, and she and Brian reconcile.

In the last round, "Total Look", Phil's novel design, including the use of several tattoos and body paints on a naked, winged Sandra, snatches the overall victory for "The Cut Above" by one point, and Shelley, Sandra, Phil, Brian and Christina leave the competition arm-in-arm as Keighley celebrates a hometown winner.


Production Details

The film was released in US cinemas on 7 March 2001. The UK Premiere was on 30 March 2001 in the Town of Keighleymarker and Dewsburymarker, West Yorkshire, where the story was set and filmed. Releases in other countries followed between May 2001 and May 2002.

At one point Ray tells his daughter Christina that she is not in Minneapolis anymore. Rachael Leigh Cook, who plays Christina, is from Minneapolis.

The release of Blow Dry was delayed when a similarly themed film about the world champion hair competition called The Big Tease came out in 2000.


  1. Filming Locations

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