Film short: Through The Middle
Charting the decline of an old-fashioned men’s barber in a dying area of north London, this pointed documentary from Simon James Lane and Tom Sweetland offers a profound look at the end of a family business and cries a lament for the small town ethics of yesteryear.
The pair’s subject, Mr. S, has been cutting hair for more than a quarter century, his father and grandfather before him have poured over 100 years into the business, and now he’s staring down the barrel of closure amid hugely diminishing financial returns and the negative reputation his local area has accrued over recent years. Mr. S comes across as a proper Londoner in the old sense of the word – all little gestures of goodwill and foggy turns of phrase – but the tragedy of his situation is smartly and heartbreakingly conveyed by the directorial duo.
It’s a universal piece in many ways; you could substitute north London for any number of other UK or world areas where the huge decline in industry has caused small businesses to shut in the face of corporate monopolisation and crippling debts. Mr. S’ son has never gotten into the business and now a simple, local, friendly men’s hairdresser’s – of which there are few remaining – is going to close after a century of family ownership. Lane and Sweetland’s film is brief but powerful, and in its scant 7 minutes offers a critique on current British societal ills, the unseen consequences of globalisation, the personal tragedies of wider economic strife, and an elegy to the smalltown business. It’s excellent stuff.
Luke Grundy is a fervent assimilator of media living amid the bright lights of London, England. If he’s not watching films or listening to music, he’s probably asleep, eating or dead. An aspiring writer, journalist and musician, he is the creator of movie/music blog Odessa & Tucson and lives for epistemology.