Being Ginger (Garden Thieves Pictures, NR)

dvd being-gingerCharm goes a long way, and so does a sense of humor; fortunately, the film has plenty of both to spare.

 

 

 

Despite being a redhead for most of my early life, the first time I heard the term “ginger” refer to a hair color rather than a spice was on Glee, where the overbearing parents of sweet and ever so cute Miss Emma Pillsbury are revealed to be ginger supremacists. Scott P. Harris has the opposite problem: Despite being a charming and attractive young man, he feels inferior due to his ginger coloring. More notably, he decided to make a film about it.

I doubt that anyone gets through childhood without being picked on, but there are certainly degrees of bullying and ostracism, and Harris (a graduate student in Edinburgh while making this film) seems to have gotten a particularly bad dose. In fact, he’s still haunted by feelings of inferiority, which he traces to being teased about his red hair while in school. His ostensible goal in Being Ginger is to document his attempts to find a woman who likes ginger men, which takes him to interview strangers on the street, as well as to a website for gingers and ginger chasers, and a Dutch festival for redheads.

You might wonder why he doesn’t look for a woman who likes him, period, since hair color is not really a deal breaker for most women, but then he would lose the unique hook of this film. Unhappy young men lacking in confidence are a dime a dozen, after all, but red hair is rare (about 1 to 2 percent of the world’s population, according to some estimates). Besides, everyone is the expert on their own experience, and if Harris says he is still haunted by childhood teasing based on his hair color, then he is.

Harris is an engaging presence on camera (his on-screen persona is reminiscent of Morgan Spurlock) and the very modesty of Being Ginger is part of its charm. Harris directed, produced, and co-edited (with Ben McKinstrie), as well as serving as the film’s central subject. Being Ginger’s style is the opposite of slick, with some seriously awkward encounters left in the final edit, as well as some dry, off-screen advice from cinematographer Lou McLoughlan (at one point, Harris is engaging in some pre-date posing in the mirror, and she asks if he has an “attractive” expression).

Charm goes a long way, and so does a sense of humor. Fortunately, Being Ginger has plenty of both to spare. You can’t help but root for Harris, wishing him well both in his film career and in his romantic life, and you also can’t help but feel that he faces a bright future in both regards, especially if he can learn—particularly in the romance arena—to get out of his own way. | Sarah Boslaugh

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