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Venus Beauty Institute

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Product Details

  • Actors: Nathalie Baye, Bulle Ogier, Samuel Le Bihan, Jacques Bonnaffé, Mathilde Seigner
  • Directors: Tonie Marshall
  • Writers: Tonie Marshall, Jacques Audiard, Marion Vernoux
  • Producers: Emmanuelle Pinet, Gilles Sandoz, Isabelle Pailley
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: June 26, 2001
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005B1WH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,630 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Venus Beauty Institute" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


The carefully unattached existence of working girl Nathalie Baye is suddenly upended when lovesick hunk Samuel Le Bihan introduces himself: "My name is Antoine and I love you." Set in a cute glass storefront with a neon pink and blue façade that could have sprung from a Jacques Demy musical, this bittersweet romantic drama was written for the arresting Baye, who plays a middle-aged "girl" in a uniquely Parisian beauty shop that specializes in facials, body treatments, massages, and emotional confession. Her coworkers, young, sweetly guileless brunette cutie Audrey Tautou and gloomy twentysomething Mathilde Seigner, are like glimpses into her past lives, one full of hope and giddy optimism, the other turned resentful from disappointment. She clings to the girly camaraderie and workaday autopilot of her job while her "patronne" (the incomparable Bulle Ogier) nudges her toward responsibility.

Writer-director Tonie Marshall has a marvelous feeling for the women who work and visit the place, though her soulful bohemian artist Le Bihan is defined by little more than good looks, shaggy charm, and a kind of reckless attraction. The film is at its best with the women: the easy by-play and guarded emotions of the shopgirls, the often uncontrolled outbursts of the offbeat and oddball clients, and especially the haunted and lonely performance from Baye, who warily creeps out of her shell for another chance at intimacy. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Tsuyoshi on March 3, 2002
Format: DVD
A hit back in France, "Venus Beauty Institute" came here in Japan and USA. I am afraid that the film was seeking audience very hard in theater, though. It's a pity because "Venus Beauty" is a really good movie with superb performance. And it is the place where Audrey Tautou (aka Amelie) was working before she landed in a cafe in Paris. THAT makes the film is worth watching, don't you think?
DVD or VHS's cover will show you three workers (how do you say in English?) at a beauty salon, clad in vivid pink, but the film's main story follows Nathalie Baye's character, Angele, now forty-years-old, whose relationships with a man she loved in the past, it is implied, had not been an easy one. The moment she is ditched by a guy after a 3-days love affair, she encounters a new love without her knowing; in fact, you see behind that guy, an artist Antoine (Samuel Le Bihan, seen in "Brotherhood of Wolf") falls in love at first sight. Suddenly she is told that he loves her, and he keeps on coming in spite of her repeated rejection. Should she accept his love, instead of having an easy relations with forgettable dates, knowing that loving means complicated things, as she experienced before....
In the meanwhile, Angele's co-workers have their own relationships, and they are told (or implied) in a very subdued, subtle way. Samantha (played by Mathilde Seinger, younger sister of Emmanuelle of "The Nineth Gate" and Harrison Ford film "Frantic") seems to keep on having dates every night with different boys. Other worker, youngest Marie (lovely Tautou) is courted by an old, kind gentleman who asks her to come to his house.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 1, 2004
Format: DVD
This stars Nathalie Baye, not Audrey Tautou, of Amelie (2001) fame. (She has a supporting role.) Baye is Angele, a 40-year-old Parisian beautician who has loved and lost a few too many times. Indeed, as the film opens we (and Samuel Le Bihan as Antoine) watch and hear her being dumped once again. Well, she is careless with men. She is perhaps too "easy." She picks up men, the wrong ones. She is aggressive in her desire. And now she has become cynical. All she wants now are one-nights stands, no more love, no more unbreak my heart. Love is too painful.

So when Antoine falls in love with her at something like first sight (I do have a weakness for love at first sight: it is so, so daring, and so, shall we say, unpredictable) she rejects him out of hand even though he is a vital and handsome artist, confident and winning. What IS her problem? But he pursues her even though he is engaged to another (Helene Fillieres). And when she gets drunk and wants some casual sex with him, he says no. He wants her fully in control of her faculties.

So this is a romantic comedy of sorts centered around a beauty parlor. However any resemblance to Hollywood movies in the same genre (Shampoo (1975) and Hairspray (1988) somehow come to mind) is purely coincidental. Here the salon is brightly and colorfully lit with a tinker bell as the door opens, and the clientele are eclectic to say the least: an exhibitionist who arrives in a raincoat and nothing else; a rich old man lusting after Tautou; a woman with oozing pimples on her...(never mind)...etc.

What makes this work so well is a completely winning performance by Baye, sharp direction by Toni Marshall, and a kind of quirky and blunt realism that eschews all cliche.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on June 2, 2002
Format: DVD
I bought this film to practice my French. I figured it was fluffy, but would prove more interesting than language lab. I was right. However, it not only beats language lab, it is film of great depth--and pleasing to the eye. Nathalie Baye, who plays the lead character Angele in the VENUS BEAUTY INSTITUTE, played the wife to Gerhard Depardieu's husband in THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE. She is not a terribly pretty woman, but like most French women she has a "certain something, I know not what" and is a fine actress. The film is currently being marketed as an early Audrey Tautou film (she plays Marie, the 20-year old beautician who becomes involved with an older man), but Tautou has ninth billing and much less screen time than Baye.
Angele is very unhappy. She apparently has never been able to make a committment to a man. One man with whom she apparently had an earlier serious relationship appears throughout the film (she runs back to him whenever she is wounded), and it seems she may have once loved him, but somehow she shot him in the face.
Angele uses casual sex to deal with her unhappiness. Her tactics frequently led to bad experiences. One day as she is being dumped by her latest jerk, a young man who looks suspiciously like a young relative of Depardieu approaches her and tells her he has fallen in love with her. The rest of the film tells their story--including an ex-fiancee with a gun.
This is a beautiful film. The story is beautiful. The film contains beautiful shot after shot. I am attracted to color and the celadon greens, mango pinks, celestial blues, and others are fabulous colors are to die for (think Jamaica). The interior shots of the beauty institute, the apartments, the homes are filled with color and ambient lighting.
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