Patrice Leconte's film The Hairdresser's Husband, feels like a film I should have at least heard of years ago. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I had not until ad's for Severin's DVD release began to hit the web a few months back. It seemed like after realizing that the film existed, I began to see it everywhere. While dropping my daughter's friend home after a sleepover a few weekends ago, I noticed an old VHS copy of the film on top of a stack of videos in their living room.
I have to admit, I was not excited about watching the film. From the very little I knew it looked like a very typical mid-90's art house film. But I popped it on anyway, and was in for quite the surprise. The Hairdresser's Husband can be summed up at a light-hearted fairy tale about perversion, obsession, love and death. It feels like a mix of an older Giuseppe Tornatore film, with some of the later films of Pedro Almodovar, and a dash of Fellini's Amarcord.
The film stars Jean Rochefort as Antoine, a man who discovers at an early age a love of hairdresser's, and of getting his haircut. Leconte shows the beginnings of this obsession in a series of flashbacks to Antoine's childhood, where he would frequently get his hair cut by a hairdresser whom he lustfully obsessed over. He even announces to his Father, when the question of what he will do when he grows up is posed that he wants to “marry a hairdresser.”
Antoine does grow up, and his obsession never faded. One day after admiring her from a far he walks into the salon of Mathilde(Anna Galiena). He gets his haircut from her, although it is quite short, and becomes immediately smitten with her, he proposes to her on the spot (but not before finishing his haircut). She ignores him as if were not a serious request, and he leaves. Only to watch her from across the street the rest of the evening. A few weeks go bye, and he visits the shop again. She remembers him, and accepts his proposal. Thus begins the fairy tale romance of Mathilde and Antoine.
The Hairdresser's Husband, is a very simple film. The love story is the type of love story that can only be found in a fairy tale. Antoine and Mathilde's life together is the epitome of a fairy tale romance. They live together in wedded bliss, in a flat above her salon which we never see, and he spends the entire day sitting in the salon watching her work. I did not know what to expect when I popped the film in, so I sat there wondering things like what Antoine did for a living as an adult. When we meet back up with him as an adult, he is neatly dressed and looks far from a homeless pervert, yet it is never explained what he does prior to meeting Mathilde. This dug at me during the majority of the film's running time. What type of woman would allow her husband to sit around all day and watch HER work?
I eventually realized that questions like this were unimportant to the films narrative. This was a simple love story that Patrice Leconte was trying to tell, and while the information may have deepened the narrative, it was unnecessary to the story he wished to tell. The film is a very sweet, emotional roller coaster that lulls you in with it's charm and keeps you compelled to the very end.
Severin has presented The Hairdresser's Husband in a 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The transfer is absolutely crisp, with very few traces of grain throughout.
The film is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The audio mix is quite basic, but serves it purpose well. The dialogue is perfectly audible, and no hissing or background distortion can be found. It is also presented with optional English subtitles.
One thing I love about discovering new films is discovering new great directors. Even if The Hairdresser's Husband proved to be a less than stellar film, the extras would make it worth the purchase. The main extras on this DVD are an interview with Patrice Leconte titled Leconte and Leconte Part I. The interview runs slightly over half an hour, and covers a good portion of Leconte's early career in film. It also goes into greater depth about The Hairdresser's Husband, having never heard of the director prior to seeing this film, I found this extra to be an excellent companion piece to the film, and a wonderful introduction to Leconte.
The other main extra on the disc is an interview with the hairdresser herself, Anna Galiena. This interviews runs about 20 minutes, and is an interesting overview of her career in film, and her work with Leconte on this film.
The disc is rounded with the films theatrical trailer presented in anamorphic widescreen.
Severin has really gone all out in the extra's department for their DVD release of this film.
Severin's release of The Hairdresser's Husband is an absolute revelation. For those who are already fans of the film, this release is a must buy, for those that have yet to see it this disc serves as a wonderful introduction to the film, and the director. I am looking forward to checking out Severin's other Leconte release The Perfume of Yvonne.