Brain Pickings

Through the Middle: Bittersweet Short Film about a Barber, Perseverance, and Impermanence


Last year, we featured 7 short films about near-obsolete occupations, which went on to become one of our most enjoyed pickings all year. Today, we add to that collection Through the Middle — a beautiful observational documentary about an aging barber named Mr. S and the slow decline of his business. The film follows his profound reflections as he confronts his retirement, the loss of his patrons, and the ever-changing face of the city.

I enjoy cutting hair 24 hours a day. If I’ve got in my mind halfway through a haircut that I don’t enjoy it, I’ll put the tools down and walk out and leave you, and that would be the end of it then.”

The work of filmmakers Simon James Lane and Tom Sweetland, Through the Middle exudes the quiet grief of change as the foreign future, even when framed as progress, replaces the familiar past — the universal human restlessness towards impermanence.

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