Screened at the 2022 Reeling International LGBTQ+ Film Festival (2/5); Letterboxd (2/5), Imdb.com (4/10)
As men have become more conscious of their appearance, that trend has extended beyond clothing to their grooming rituals, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. In the pursuit of creating distinctive looks for themselves – including everything from hair styles to skin care to the preening of their most personal regions – they have increasingly sought out the services of skilled tonsorial and cosmetological experts who practice the art of manscaping. It’s a field that has grown ever more specialized in recent years, too, with practitioners who offer unique and customized services to their clients. From that, one might think that these services would provide ample fodder for documentation and discussion. Unfortunately, director Broderick Fox’s latest documentary woefully misses the mark when it comes to this subject. This scant 60-minute release is essentially limited to the work of two manscaping professionals and an artist whose works celebrate the barbering arts (why he was included here truly escapes me). What’s more, these subjects represent some of the more extreme examples of what manscaping is all about, excluding the work of more typical practitioners and portraying this art as a fringe activity. In doing this, the director leaves considerable material on the table and presents a somewhat skewed perspective on this topic. The film also annoyingly goes off topic often, exploring subject matter that’s only tangentially related to the supposed main thrust of the picture. Sadly, this offering represents a missed opportunity, leaving viewers with an underdeveloped look at something that should have been a source of fun, diversity and insight.