Hairdresser's Husband Review

The other day I was sat next to someone who represents a level of grace and beauty that I find it hard to believe I could be in the same postcode with. It was quite intoxicating. Every gesture, remark, and action was transfixing. In that moment I would not have been anywhere else and, for all my endless thoughts about death and corruption, I experienced a longing that seemed to confirm that timelessness and joy were dreams worth dreaming rather than oppressive impossible notions.

Patrice Leconte's Le Mari de la Coiffeuse is about an impossible dream made flesh. From early adolescence, Antoine has known his life's aim was to marry a hairdresser and as a much older adult he meets the luminous Mathilde and proposes - he gets the girl and to live the life of the film's title. This is a movie about the awakening of sexuality, the experience of intimacy, and the joy of sensual expression. It is episodic and narrated in flashback as a romantic reverie that allows the illogical space for caricatures and a charming outlandish performance from Jean Rochefort.

Leconte tells the tale of a man who gets what he dreams of, and consequently this is a told from a masculine perspective with a love interest who, because of her occasional blankness, may seem like a fantasy rather than a real woman. Yet the director catches so well the things that provoke desire and invite intimacy, and Galiena manages to suggest the kind of woman who needs to be adored only and if she can't have that she will ask nothing else.

The film concludes with more of its own dreaming and a disturbing sense of how being locked in fantasy can lead to great sadness. Sensuous, touching and very erotic, Leconte's film is sexy without ever being too obvious, and intelligent without over thinking. It's a film that will remind you of the joy of intimacy and the necessity of dreams.

The Disc - This film has had a chequered history on DVD with some very poor English language releases. The transfer here is in the correct aspect ratio and I believe has been properly converted to NTSC, it does have some edge enhancement, the brightness is a little high and the image is a tad too soft. Yet, it looks very like my French disc with the exception of the brightness and that disc's incorrect aspect ratio. The original mono track is very good although not quite as detailed as that on the French release which boasts twice the bit rate.

Yet what makes this a very nice purchase are the extras of a 30 minute plus Leconte interview on his career as cartoonist then film-maker, and a warm appreciation of the film by Anna Galiena. Leconte describes meeting his actress as "professional love at first sight" and she talks about the role of her dreams in what was clearly a very happy collaboration.

For these extras, the correctly framed transfer and the trailer, this disc will prove a fine purchase for lovers of the film.

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