FRENCH ACTORS (AND THEIR MOVIES) FROM 'VENUS'.Byline: Bob Strauss Film Critic
``Venus Beauty Institute'' swept the major Cesar Awards last year. These are the French equivalent of the Oscars, and it's comforting, if not exactly heartening heart·en
tr.v. heart·ened, heart·en·ing, heart·ens
To give strength, courage, or hope to; encourage. See Synonyms at encourage.
Adj. 1. , to discover that the Gallic academy has no better taste than our own.
``Venus'' isn't a particularly bad film, it's just not much of one. Character-based, culturally critical and honest as far as it goes, it doesn't dig nearly as deeply into the strange mutations of human behavior as the best, and even some of the worst, French films do. There is believable be·liev·a·ble
Capable of eliciting belief or trust. See Synonyms at plausible.
be·lieva·bil pain and insight available here, but a lot of sitcomish reductionism reductionism(rē·dukˑ·sh·niˑ·z , too.
The title establishment is a Paris day spa A day spa is a business establishment which people visit for personal care treatments such as massages and facials. It is similar to a beauty salon in that it is only visited for the duration of the treatment. where women go for facials, massages, manicures and the like. Its very existence seems, in the mind of writer-director Tonie Marshall anyway, to say all that's necessary about the complex relationship between appearance, love and self-esteem in a society as glamour-obsessed as the one we share with France.
OK, that out of the way, the main spotlight can fall on the four women who work the salon, primarily Angele (Nathalie Baye Nathalie Baye (born July 6, 1948 in Mainneville, Eure, Normandy, France) is an award winning French actress. She has won the César award for her acting four times and been nominated a further five times. , of many finer films, including the recently imported ``An Affair of Love''). She's in her 40s, good at her job and a complete wreck outside of the office. Frightened of love - something to do with an ex-boyfriend whose face she had a hand in scarring - Angele likes to pick up guys in cafeterias and such, have wild sex and hope they'll be into it again without any of that complicated relationship stuff attached. Naturally, she feels used and disappointed whether they take her up on the proposition or not.
Then a handsome younger man, Antoine (Samuel Le Bihan), falls in abject romantic love with Angele, which naturally rocks her world. He is, complicatedly, engaged to a moody young woman who has a gun, but his expressions seem sincere enough. What to do? Well, drink and fret, mostly.
The other Institute workers include the impossibly luscious young Marie (Audrey Tautou), whom an aged widower widower n. a man whose wife died while he was married to her and has not remarried.
WIDOWER. A man whose wife is dead. A widower has a right to administer to his wife's separate estate, and as her administrator to collect debts due to her, generally for is plying Plying, in textile manufacture, is the activity of twisting, intermingling, or otherwise intimately combining two or more fibers or yarns into a combined yarn or fiber. Plying Yarns with sweet talk and gifts; the semi-wild Samantha (Mathilde Seigner Mathilde Seigner (born January 28, 1968) is a French actress.
Mathilde Seigner was born in Paris, France. She is the granddaughter of the respected French actor Louis Seigner (1903-1991). ), who's kind of like a younger Angele, only a little more interested in hearts and flowers and, at least on the surface, not as neurotic; and owner Nadine (Bulle Ogier), who's fighting the years as effectively as possible with the help of the many cosmetic products she tirelessly pushes at customers.
Ogier's name should be familiar to fans of late New Wave cinema. One of ``Venus' '' more enjoyable elements is its parade of French actresses we rarely see anymore, among them Emmanuelle Riva (``Hiroshima, mon Amour'') and the director's mother, Micheline Presle (``Devil in the Flesh''), as Angele's unmarried but far-from-maiden aunts.
Then there are the Institute customers, the best-looking of whom conveniently prepares for the tanning bed tanning bed
A structure lined with sunlamps in which one stands or reclines in order to acquire a suntan. Also called sunbed. by stripping naked in the foyer. Watchable watch·a·ble
1. Capable of being watched; viewable: watchable wildlife.
2. Good enough to watch: "The fastest modem ... as a lot of this is, that's all it's clearly meant to be. Most other facets of the lives the film claims to examine are what get left to the viewer's imagination.
``VENUS BEAUTY INSTITUTE''
(Not rated: sex, nudity, language)
The stars: Nathalie Baye, Samuel Le Bihan, Audrey Tautou, Bulle Ogier, Mathilde Seigner, Jacques Bonnaffe.
Behind the scenes: Written and directed by Tonie Marshall. Produced by Malek Hamzaoui. Released by Lot 47 Films.
Running time: One hour, 45 minutes.
Playing: Royal, West L.A.
Our rating: Two and one half stars
A mature Angele (Nathalie Baye) becomes involved with the younger Antoine (Samuel Le Bihan) in ``Venus Beauty Institute.''