"Beauty Is Skin Deep"
Tonie Marshall’s VENUS BEAUTY INSTITUTE is a study of relationships in modern society. Its intriguing story revolves around a beauty salon in France that specializes in massages, facials, tanning, and the women who work there.
In the movie, acclaimed French actress Nathalie Baye (THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE) stars as one of the beauticians, Angele, who is an attractive forty-something woman who relates to men only through prostituting herself and having flings. Having been hurt badly once and abandoned for another woman, Angele’s philosophy is, “Mutual love doesn’t exist.” “You can’t give in to love,” she believes. “Love is just another form of slavery.” So, Angele picks men she doesn’t love in order to protect herself.
One day, however, a mysterious man named Antoine, played by Samuelle Bihan, happens to see Angele in the plaza and is immediately infatuated with her. Feeling vulnerable, Angele rebuffs his first invitations, but Antoine develops an obsession for her. He feels that, with persistence and perseverance, she cannot continue fighting him. Complicating Antoine’s obsession is the fact that Antoine is engaged to be married to a woman who is deeply in love with him.
Meanwhile, the movie reveals that Angele is a keen observer of the other beauticians in the salon. One of them, Marie, is a beautiful young girl seduced by a wealthy widower who lavishes jewelry and money on her. Angele is enthralled by that relationship, becoming a voyeur at one point. Nadine, on the other hand, falls in love with someone different every day. Angele becomes supportive of Nadine when she lands in a hospital from a drug overdose.
The acting in VENUS BEAUTY INSTITUTE is superb, especially Nathalie Baye’s performance. She expresses a wide range of emotions in a subtle fashion. There are no American or British acting histrionics in the way she carries herself. Many viewers will remain engaged with her story throughout the movie, not knowing where it will lead.
The main focus of VENUS BEAUTY INSTITUTE is on commitment and men’s apparent disregard for it. This view is seen consistently through the eyes of all the pink-smocked beauticians, not just Angele. The female response to the inclinations of men is seen through the pampered customers who wander through the salon. They try to make themselves beautiful and ageless in the hopes of changing men’s attitude. So, by covering themselves with makeup, anti-aging creams and tans, they try to appeal to men’s sense of visual pleasure. In doing so, however, they are hiding who they really are.
There is some truth in this analysis. Regrettably, however, this movie contains a romantic worldview with some feminist attitudes and includes some obscenities and profanities, sexual references in the dialogue, implied sexual immorality, brief nudity, and other objectionable material.
(Ro, Fe, LL, V, S, NN, A, D, MM) Romantic worldview with some feminist elements; several obscenities & profanities plus some frank language & sexual references; attempted suicide; implied fornication; brief partial nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, obsession, promiscuity & much older man romances young woman.
The story of VENUS BEAUTY INSTITUTE revolves around a beauty salon in France and the women who work there. Nathalie Baye stars as one of the beauticians, Angele. Having been hurt badly once and abandoned, she relates to men only through prostituting herself and having flings. She tries to rebuff the obsession of a man named Antoine, who falls head over heels for this forty-something woman. Meanwhile, the movie reveals that Angele is a keen observer of the other beauticians in the salon and the customers who come there to mask their real personalities to attract and keep the interest of men.
The acting in VENUS BEAUTY INSTITUTE is superb, especially Nathalie Baye’s performance. She expresses a wide range of emotions in a subtle fashion. Also, the movie provides an entertaining dissertation on modern relationships. It shows men’s disregard for commitment, and the women’s covering themselves with makeup to hide the person who they really are. There is some truth in these assertions. Regrettably, however, VENUS BEAUTY INSTITUTE contains a romantic worldview with some feminist attitudes and includes some obscenities and profanities, sexual references in the dialogue, implied sexual immorality, brief nudity, and other objectionable material