Well Groomed

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9th December 2019

You've Never Seen Dogs Like This Before

Deep, deep in the heartlands of America, where the Southern Drawl is the norm, the bible belt if you will, something that started in Japan has taken route: competitive creative dog grooming.

These ladies, and they are all ladies in the documentary, we catch the odd glimpse of a man who appears to compete but he’s quickly shuffled away, and their Poodles, it’s nearly all Poodles, wash, brush, comb, blow-dry, colour, shave and glue as if their lives depended on it.

The owners let their hair down, whilst the dogs lose theirs, and run riot creatively over their dogs. From the Mad-Hatter to Jurassic Bark to turning a dog into a Ram, anything and everything goes in the world of creative dog grooming, providing it’s bright and creative.

The documentary is the brainchild of newcomer Rebecca Stern who spent a year following a few of the more well-known groomers around, as well as a newcomer to the arena.

Most of the ladies also own dog grooming salons, either shops or mobile vehicles, although one is the main retailer for all of the rhinestones, dye’s and crayons (yes crayons), who also provides workshops on how to be a creative dog groomer, Angela Kumpe is also one of the most renown creative dog groomers around, even winning creative dog groomer of the year.

But Angela has some fierce competition with her good friend Adriane Pope hot on her heels and Catherine Opson also doing her best to be the best. Whilst they are all rivals, they are also good friends, meeting up before events for dinner and having a laugh together.

Newcomer to the scene Nicole Beckman so desperately wants to be part of this world that it hurts. I mean you can feel how much she wants it, how desperate this young woman is to be part of it all but she also recognises she isn’t quite up to the standard of the big three, not yet.

Stern directs the whole thing beautifully and injects a lovely bit of humour into proceedings. There’s sadness too, these are dogs after all and, sadly, they don’t live forever.

She follows the women from their home lives, to their day-to-day work lives to the competing. Stern puts them front and centre, letting them tell their stories and showing the passion they all have for this creative world.

Regardless of your feelings on the matter, from a welfare point of view, the dogs seem happy enough, their tails are wagging, we’re told the dye’s aren’t harmful, the documentary is wonderfully put together: well made, good subject, humour, sadness and passion, the perfect mix.

A year immersed in the visually-stunning and humorous world of competitive creative dog groomers reveals that, no matter where or how, an innate passion for imaginative expression is universal.

17th December 2019

Rebecca Stern

Running Time:
1h 28min

Tessingtons - Purveyors of Fine Teas

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