Dear Brit Marling: it’s about your hair.
4 July 2013
When we first meet your character in the new film The East — which I’d anticipated for a couple of months — we see her looking like this:
Brown hair, carefully coiffed, even a little dull. Jane (Marling) works for a slightly creepy company somewhat akin to Blackwater — and their latest mission is to get someone inside a new radical environmental protest organization called The East, which stages carefully-planned “jams” to punish the corporate leaders whose companies destroy the planet and ruin citizens’ health. If a CEO’s company has poisoned the ocean with an oil spill, for example, The East works a jam to dump oil into his house. When she’s chosen by her firm to infiltrate the group and expose them, Jane goes into her motel bathroom one night on her way into the underworld, and dyes her hair blonde using one of those dye kits from the drugstore.
When she dries it, she looks at herself in the mirror and we have our first embarrassingly stupid scene in the film: she seems surprised by how good it looks.
Everything is wrong with the hair:
- Why would a woman going undercover with a fringe group for months dye her hair? She’d only have to keep touching up the roots. This is a group that eats food out of garbage cans. They’re going to notice when the blonde grows out.
- I don’t think it’s very easy to dye brown hair blonde, but I might be wrong.
- There is no @#$%ing way on earth a home dye kit from the drugstore creates THAT head of hair. Look at that blonde! Indeed, we look at it throughout the film in numerous shots that show the gorgeous variety of colors in her hair.
In short, Brit, your hair blew the plausibility of the film’s story.
Brit, you are the most successful indie actor-writer I can think of right now. Your collaboration with Zal Batmanglij — he directs, you act, and together you write the screenplay — has produced three films now that have received wide distribution and critical attention. Hell, you get your indie films into comparatively mainstream theaters, for god’s sake (Another Earth, Sound of My Voice, and The East). Most of all, you feature great female leads and interesting stories that are always worth watching. When you come out next year with another film, I’ll be there to see it.
But you have to get over your own hair.
Yes. You have gorgeous hair. You will always have gorgeous hair. But you run the risk of being The Hair at this rate, and in The East your hair ruined the plausibility of your story. You have to act over your hair, not behind it … and you need to think seriously before allowing it a bigger starring role than you take yourself. Otherwise you’ll become a hack.
Okay, maybe I have a hair obsession, what with my hair piece back in January and random comments dropped in on a semi-regular basis. But I’m right on this one, Brit. Stop it. I need you to keep making interesting films with female leads and unusual stories.