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The Hairdresser's Husband
cast: Jean Rochefort, Anna Galiena, Henri Hocking, Maurice Chevit, and Ticky Holgado

director: Patrice Leconte

79 minutes (15) 1990
widescreen ratio 16:9
Second Sight DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Donald Morefield
Jean Rochefort stars as introverted Antoine, who finds a soul-mate of sorts in hairdresser Mathilde (Anna Galiena). She washes, cuts and trims men's hair, and he watches, smilingly, sometimes groping her when the barber's shop customers aren't looking. She shaves off an unwitting visitor's beard (with a straight razor, of course) on their wedding day, while still wearing her bridal dress. Rochefort's attempts to dance to Arabic music are the only time Antione's character honestly comes alive but the results, unfortunately, are just too ridiculous.

The sensuality of hair, and the accoutrements of the hairdressing profession, is lingered upon with fetishistic delight. This unlikely couple's nigh claustrophobic romance denies the existence of an outside world to the point of hermetically sealed boyhood fantasy. Theirs is a languid passion, evidenced with glowingly precise photography that nothing is allowed to disturb. Having the only other domestic relationship in the story break up unsubtly reinforces the unquestioning validity of Antoine and Mathilde's cherished love. And so, the weirdo hermit's wife lives forever in suffocating denial of pleasure or life, outside the salon, while the marriage descends into hedonistic wallow.

Obsession and sadness permeate the narrative of The Hairdresser's Husband (aka: Le mari de la coiffeuse) in a familiar, and irritatingly Gallic, way some may find inexcusably boring. I won't give away the spitefully abrupt ending - but suffice to say, that what opens with a sense of energetic abandon eventually succumbs to a merely companionable silence.

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