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Kate Erbland

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Kate is a freelance writer interested in all things cinematic and literary. She lives in New York City with two cats, two turtles, one boyfriend, and a frightening number of sensible canvas totes.

Theory: Is the Quality of a Javier Bardem Movie Directly Related to the Craziness of His Hair?

Oscar winner and aspirational hairstyle possessor Javier Bardem may have been working steadily at this acting thing for whole decades before rising to Hollywood prominence over the last few years, but it’s a wicked combination of talent and willingness to lop at his locks that have placed him a cut above his acting brethren. Sure, the man has talent to spare, but we dare you to name another working actor so willing to change up a large part of appearance by way of unforgiving scissors and dye.

At the very least, Bardem is willing to mess with his tresses when it serves the character at hand – and it’s becoming increasingly more acceptable to assume that the wackier his hairstyle, the more totally bonkers and thematically rich its hosting film will be (even if the rest of the film around him is more straight-laced, or straight-locked, given our subject matter). But just how closely does that correlation hold upon further reflection?

THE COUNSELOR

The Counselor
In his latest, Bardem again plays the baddie in a Cormac McCarthy feature, a move that all but guarantees another incident of follicle madness. In the Ridley Scott film, Bardem’s Reiner may not be the baddest of the bad guys, but he’s certainly not up to much good. A wealthy drug trafficker, Reiner spends his money on an over-the-top abode that’s so lavish that it would look out of place even in Los Angeles (the film is set in El Paso, Texas, making it even wackier) and a revoltingly gauche wardrobe. His hair is, of course, deranged.

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? It’s pretty crazy, a mess of loose spikes that reach sky-high, made all the nuttier by his lack of sideburns.

How good is the film? Let’s put it this way, Cameron Diaz has sex with a car in this film, and that’s not even the craziest thing that happens, but that doesn’t mean that Scott’s latest is good by any stretch of the imagination. Bardem’s hair in the film is ultimately uninspired – it’s needlessly big and a strange pick for a rich drug dealer – which is weirdly in line with the film itself, which is just as puffed up and strange with no real rewards.

SKYFALL

Skyfall

If it were possible for a man to get an Oscar nomination based on the horrifying evil of his character’s hairstyle alone, Bardem would have locked up a nod for his villain turn in the last James Bond film. People were shocked he wasn’t recognized for the role, and that has about eighty percent to do with his ‘do.

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? Blond, slick, somehow able to come across as nefarious on its own, it was a masterwork and Bardem’s most bonkers ‘do since breaking all the rules with his “No Country for Old Men” mop.

How good is the film? A solid return to James Bond films after the disappointment of “Quantum of Solace,” it’s also hugely to the production’s credit that it allowed and embraced Bardem’s hair, which ended up being the picture’s unofficial star. The film could have based its entire marketing strategy on showing off stills of Bardem and his insane cut and color, and that would have been enough to convey just how good “Skyfall” is.

TO THE WONDER

To the Wonder
Bardem’s turn in Terrence Malick’s 2012 drama found most of its footing in his personal mystery and native tongue, forcing his hair into the rare background position.

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? While not actually “crazy” (at least not in the Bardemian sense), it is certainly quite stylish for a priest.

How good is the film? It’s classic Malick – gauzy, non-talky, and up for interpretation – but it’s still a disappointing outing from the auteur. It’s just as stylish as Bardem’s hair within it, but it’s also just as boring.

EAT PRAY LOVE

EAT PRAY LOVE
Tasked with playing a romantic lead to Julia Roberts’ world traveler in the adaption of the wildly popular book of the same name, Bardem’s tresses go windswept and breezy.

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? Not crazy at all, but certainly quite lush. If anything, it’s nice to remember how gorgeous those locks can be when they’re not meant to serve as their own villain.

How good is the film? Like Bardem’s hair, it’s visually lush enough, and it’s nice to see Julia Roberts back in the rom-com saddle, but it’s also sort of flat and messy and forgettable (just like Bardem’s hair!).

VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA 

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Before Bardem grew his hair out to look all rugged and such for “Eat Pray Love,” he maintained a surprisingly tame look for his turn in Woody Allen’s mixed up romance. Given some of the cuts that came just before Bardem booked these more relaxing roles, who could blame him?

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? Not crazy at all. In fact, it looks like Bardem’s normal haircut.

How good is the film? Allen’s dizzy dive into one heck of a love triangle (or square, really) is far loonier than any of its stars’ hairdos, making this the rare cinematic occurrence in which Bardem’s hair doesn’t serve as a barometer for how good the final filmic product is.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA

Love in the Time of Cholera
The time-spanning romance based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s celebrated novel of the same name allowed its stars to get deep into different time periods – both personally and historically – which also meant plenty of chances for insane hair.

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? Refer to the mustache. Pair that thing with aging over a period of fifty years, Bardem got to flex both his acting muscles and his hair’s strange majesty in the romance. Period pieces look good on him.

How good is the film? Oh, gosh, just not very good at all. Bardem’s follicle choices might be the best thing about it, at least they are exciting to look at. Coming after his life-changing turn in “No Country for Old Men,” it’s entirely possible that the coorealation between the quality of Bardem’s films and the insanity of his hair was still working the kinks out.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

No Country for Old Men

His Oscar-winning role was unquestionably a turning point for the actor, and a shocking amount of that is to the jaw-dropping ‘do (fine, “don’t”) he sports in the Cormac McCarthy adaptation. As total nutjob murderer Anton Chigurh, Bardem didn’t necessarily need the addition of the world’s worst haircut, but it handily vaulted him into new realms of terror.

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? The most crazy. Look at those bangs. 

How good is the film? Violent, messy, dark, nutty, it’s easily the best Cormac McCarthy adaptation filmed yet, and it’s a calling card feature for the Coen brothers. A triumph of both cinema and terrible haircuts.

COLLATERAL

Collateral

One of Michael Mann’s best films of recent vintage, this slick Los Angeles-set thriller sees Bardem playing one of many bad dudes that Tom Cruise’s wicked assassin meets up with during a dark night of the soul in the city.

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? Listen, the all-one-length look isn’t good for anyone, especially when paired with a beard of the same length, but the hair game of the film belongs totally to Tom Cruise.

How good is the film? Brutal, bloody, and bonkers, “Collateral” is one of Mann’s very best, and the intense hair crimes committed within it are just icing on the cake. Bardem’s look might not be the most out of the box here, but it’s certainly memorable (do you remember what the jazz club guy’s hair looked like? No, no you don’t).

MONDAYS IN THE SUN

Mondays in the Sun

The Spanish drama revolves around a group of unemployed men, with Bardem’s Santa as the focal point.

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? Reminiscent of his “Collateral” look, Bardem’s locks are a bit longer here, and somehow manage to feel downtrodden on their own. Depressing.

How good is the film? So good, and so depressing, and so downtrodden, and so in line with Bardem’s hair. While it’s certainly not his most “crazy” look, it so perfectly fits his character and the film that it gets an automatic pass.

THE DANCER UPSTAIRS 

The Dancer Upstairs

John Malkovich’s 2002 drama about revolution, crime, and love set Bardem as Agustin Rejas, a well-meaning cop whose world is upended by the introduction of a sexy ballet dancer, just as he’s trying to make headway in a big case. Bardem, of course, sports a mustache. He is a cop, after all.

How crazy is Bardem’s hair? What’s most striking about Bardem’s look here is how much it ages the actor, thanks to well-placed grays and a finely manicured mustache. It’s not truly crazy, but it’s definitely different.

How good is the film? A solid political thriller, the film is moody and well done, and Bardem’s aged up locks give it (and him) a real sense of gravitas.

So is there merit to this theory, or is the universe made out of nothing but chaos? Let us know in the comments.


Categories: Features

Tags: Collateral, Hair, Javier bardem, Kate Erbland, No country for old men, The Counselor, The Dancer Upstairs

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