“Venus Beauty Institute” – Chris Luedtke

If “random” was ever defined by any other words, Venus Beauty Institute would suite it well. Here lies the story of Angèle Piana (Nathalie Baye), who works at a beauty institute and no longer believes in the idea of love. Rather she has cast herself away from that idea and now thrives on one night stands to get her through the lonely nights. Suddenly out of the blue, Antoine DuMont (Samuel Le Bihan) confesses his love for Angèle and turns her life upside down.

 

The struggle here has unfortunately already repeated itself. While Venus Beauty Institute is enjoyable, the film falls to the same old stereotypes that even some of the most jaded viewers will roll their eyes at. The naïve girl Marie (Audrey Tautou), the rebel Samantha (Mathilde Seigner), and the non-believer Angèle are all present here. Each one is on a crusade to find true love for themselves.

 

I suppose the irony here is supposed to be that the girls and beauticians preparing others for love, so why can’t they find it themselves? Well, the simple answer to that is their obvious character flaws. All of them have an obvious desire to find it, but the problem is that they’re all looking in the wrong areas or ignoring the fact that it’s right in front of their faces. Okay, good premise, but again it’s something that’s been done already before, which makes the film predictable and less fulfilling.

 

The really big problem I had with this film is its pacing. There is no direction once-so-ever. It’s as if the writer had an idea for a beginning and end but did a stream of consciousness story for all of the connecting points. There were literally times where the spontaneity just flat out blew my mind. The main character, Angèle, would end up in such random, unannounced places that I felt out of place and uncomfortable during more than one scene. Granted I understand that my attention wasn’t lost because the desire to find out why we were there was great, but it was like being thrown into the middle of a discussion on a subject I had no background on.

 

The acting here I really can’t complain about at all. Everyone did a great job, especially Samuel Le Bihan. He was probably the most convincing random lover I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch on screen. The feelings are real even if they seem sudden and cheesy. The part that stood out to me the most however was the overly convincing relationship between Marie and her lover. If ever there was an onscreen relationship between two actors, it was between these two because…damn!

 

This isn’t a film for everyone; in fact, I can really only bring myself to recommend it to the chick flick audience. Ultimately, that’s what Venus Beauty Institute really is. To those looking for something different, don’t look here because you won’t get a whole lot of originality, just predictability. To those looking for a formula that works and is constantly enjoyable, look no further because this is a very pretty, enjoyable flick.

 

Rating: ★★★☆

 

-Chris Luedtke

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