Hair Love (2019/2020)
Directors: Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr., Bruce W. Smith
Screenwriter: Matthew A. Cherry
Starring: Issa Rae
If you’ve ever wondered how much love can be contained within any 7 minutes of cinema, then you need look no further than Hair Love, 2020’s warmest short film nominee.
From Sony Pictures Animation, the animation house quickly establishing a new reputation as a game-changing presence at the very top of the animated film ladder following the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this Matthew A. Cherry (9 Rides; The Last Fall) led short starring Issa Rae brings buckets of emotion to what is a short tale of a little girl looking to style her afro into one of the unique looks presented on her favourite YouTube tutorial channel.
The film’s computer animated, hand-drawn-inspired setting and character design comfortably tucks the piece into a storybook feel, offering a comfort and wonderment that bypasses the contemporariness of Disneyfied modern animation to bring about a nostalgic reaction that settles you in the child-like optimism of your youth; the time you more readily consumed such media. The result is one of tingly warmth and joy as you see the adorable little girl at the centre of the piece struggle to achieve her goal of making her hair look a certain way for a particularly big day.
Accompanied by her wise cat and later her slightly less wise father, the little girl and her (quite literally monstrous at one stage) struggle for neatness are the piece’s central narrative, the girl’s passion to achieve that which she sees in her YouTube video tutorials coming to be understood as the film reveals bits of itself moment by moment, the result being one of heart-wrenching beauty and an outstanding relatability to youth and child-like perspective.
Hair Love is short animated cinema at its most adorable, warm and emotional; a love letter to little women born to lives not so popularly explored in mainstream feature length cinema; a truly wonderful, heart-opening experience that deserves all of the eyes that will be set upon it because of its Oscar nomination. A beautiful piece of art.