In The Hairdresser's Husband we start by following the adventurous and determined Antoine (Jean Rochefort) as a 12 year old boy in the beginning of the movie, as he recounts how he came to devote himself entirely to becoming a hairdresser's husband. When Antoine was 12 years old, and probably just hitting puberty, he developed an intense infatuation and fixation with the local and voluptuous hairdresser that would leave an indelible impression on him for the rest of his life. The child actor for Antoine was quite remarkable too, as one day he gets a good look at the hairdresser's ample cleavage and then spends the rest of the day in a daze, it's hilarious. However Anoine is shattered when he goes to get his regular haircut and finds that his hairdresser has committed suicide.
Cut to many, many years later and Antoine stumbles into another hairdressing shop and meets the beautiful and ethereal Mathilde (Anna Galiena) and needless to say, Antoine has found his wife, only she doesn't know it yet. On his first haircut Antoine nervously blurts out "Will you marry me?" which Mathilde just shrugs off and Antoine slinks away, embarrassed. Two weeks later and Antoine returns for a haircut and never says a word to her, but just before he's about to leave Mathilde tells him that she will actually marry him, all while knowing absolutely nothing about the man. Mathilde is not the only one who's in the dark about Antoine either, we know very little about him as well, between the years of twelve and approximately fifty is a total blank slate. We don't know if he went to school, what he studied, what he worked, had he been married before, did he have kids, nothing, he's pretty much a mystery, but the movie implies that Mathilde and Antoine are kindred spirits, no words need to be spoken between them, they just know. It's a big pill to swallow, but okay, I'll go with it.
The visuals in The Hairdresser's Husband are sumptuous though, there are no grand palaces or anything like that, merely a hairdresser's shop, but every frame is so vibrant and bubbling with life. I'd say it has a light and almost fluffy feeling with all the natural lighting that often illuminates Mathilde as if she were an angel herself. The gorgeous visuals and resplendent colors were only amplified by the superb long takes, minimal editing and superlative attention to detail, it's a very soothing and sensual movie in all aspects.
There's really not much of a plot to The Hairdresser's Husband though, the 'plot' more or less ends when Antoine marries Mathilde, the rest of the movie is more of an experience than it is about storytelling in the traditional sense, instead putting more emphasis on visual and nuanced storytelling. There's very little in the way of extraneous characters, subplots or sets, the entire movie pretty much revolves around Antoine and Mathilde in her hairdresser's shop and any other characters that do appear are fleeting at best.
The Hairdresser's Shop is an extremely taut and minimalist look at a love that's so intense that it's arguably doomed to fizzle out over time. While trying to remain vague, Mathilde's actions in the end of the movie really left me with a feeling of ambivalence. I'm not sure if I'm happy or upset about her choice. Was Mathilde only being selfish, or was she solidifying their romance for all time? I'm personally leaning more towards that it was just an act of selfishness on her part, but I can see how others might want to interpret it in a more romantic way. Either way, The Hairdresser's Husband was a wonderfully made movie. It was funny, intoxicating and brimming with passion. Not the sort of movie I usually go for, but I liked it.
Written by - The Sentry - 27/09/2015