falderal : a moving images blog
Vénus beauté (institut) (Venus Beauty Institute) ; 1999  ·  Posted by Tallulah

Director: Tonie Marshall
Actors: Nathalie Baye, Bulle Ogier, Samuel Le Bihan, Jacques Bonnaffé, Mathilde Seigner, Audrey Tautou
Country: France

This was a film that left me very confused the first time I watched it and I was not sure how I felt. I was a bit reluctant to re-watch it although I’ve been meaning to for some time and I finally did and I don’t regret it. Now I think that this is a beautiful and complex film despite its simple appearance. It’s not the editing that makes it confusing but the protagonist, Angèle (Baye), is such a complicated person. Every scene is essential in this film to understand why Angèle is the way she is. There are so many thoughts going through my head right now that I don’t know how to even start typing about this.

I guess I can start with Angèle because everything in this film revolves around her. She is afraid of love because she is sick of jealousy and the pain that love can bring with it and prefers one night stands. From what I understand, she did love Jacques (Bonnaffé), and because she was jealous and angry at him, she got a gun and shot him. Although they are on good terms, Angèle is torn between what she did to him in the past and her feelings in general towards him. Then she meets Anotine (Le Bihan) who comes out of the blue in her world and he tells her that she moves him and that he loves her. Although at first she does not want to be with him, slowly she does start falling for him and then she realizes that she really does like him when she is jealous of seeing him with his ex-fiancée. Outside of all this stuff revolving around love, Angèle is just… agh, I really don’t know how to articulate my thoughts. She’s a beautician at the titular store and her job is to help people, yet she does everything to not help herself. She puts up a façade with her one night stands, she hurts herself by purposefully washing herself with cold water (or some can see her just caring for her skin, although she does say that she doesn’t care about appearances) and her relationships with men, and she does not want to enjoy Antoine’s company nor accept his love in the beginning. Angèle appears to have the tendency to be clingy as can be seen in the first scene of the film, and although she later on she says that she can see how her relationships will turn out, she didn’t really see it with the guy in the first scene. Or maybe she did but her masochistic tendencies made her ignore all the signals.

Ah and all the stuff about love with each of the three girls working at Vénus beauté… that’s all very beautiful, sad, and moving as well.

The ending is really quite beautiful cinematographically and symbolically that it made me feel all fuzzy inside.

There are so many things I want to say about this film and all my thoughts make sense in my head but I just don’t know how to convey them. I highly recommend watching this film more than once because I think that it’s a film that can’t be fully understood the first time around. I would like to see this film one more time and maybe I’ll be able to post about this film again and have a full entry of my analysis.

IMDb Link: Vénus beauté (institut)
Where to buy: Amazon.com

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