A Tonie Marshall film, “Venus Beauty Institute” is a disappointingly inert film that moves like a tugboat through the emotional slough that is the protagonist’s love life. With little to no capacity for forming healthy relationships, Angele (Nathalie Baye) is a 40-year-old beautician who constantly sleeps with the wrong kind of men, with no pattern to her pathology except that she requires of them dark hair and male genitalia. As we discover the history behind her promiscuous behavior, we begin to understand her more, but her melancholy does not allow us to sustain an active interest in her. Of course, the handsome knight in shining armor Antoine (Samuel Le Bihan) eventually comes to her rescue. Regrettably, Angele is never forced to lift a finger in resolving the issues that created her complex.
There is nothing particularly wrong with this film, and it contains some interesting expressionistic elements through the use of lighting and sound. But there is nothing particularly right about “Venus Beauty Institute.” The acting is professional and believable, but never engenders sympathy with a script that depresses even its use of deprecating humor. At the end of the movie, where we might possibly walk away with some sort of statement about the price paid for infidelity, a “happy ending” results for Angele, who has had everything thrust upon her. As we are forced to trudge through Angele’s indecision and mistrust of men, we lose patience and build our own walls to separate ourselves from a salon lifestyle devoted to the creation of artificial glamour and devoid of true beauty.