Emilie Dandrieux (played by Audrey Tautou) is a hairdresser who owns and runs a beauty salon in France with her business partner Sylvia (by Stéphanie Lagarde). It is four years since Emilie’s parents separated and she keeps in touch with both – their divorce has been difficult, particularly for her mother Maddy (by Nathalie Baye). Emilie maintains strong affection and loyalty to both. Emilie has discovered that her father and his much younger new girlfriend are expecting a baby and Emilie fears her mother will not take this news well as she has not yet “bounced back” into her happy life. So Emilie promises her father she’ll break the news to Maddy herself, before he does. At the same time, the salon’s maintenance man, Jean (by Sami Bouajila) has fallen hopelessly in love with Emilie. A man of words, he writes a passionate love letter to Emilie and anonymously delivers it to her. Emilie dismisses this as meaningless ravings, but it prompts her to use the words in a similar mysterious letter for her mother to receive. This will surely perk her up so she regains her strength and can face this coming news from Emilie’s father! Such a great idea … but one which doesn’t quite go smoothly, where complications and misunderstandings threaten to derail the path of true love …..
This is a nice, light, insignificant romantic comedy. The story is sweet, albeit a bit forced and implausible, but there’s enough there to keep you watching. The relationship between mother and daughter wavers realistically between deep love and utter irritation, which is refreshing – in that it’s not just one way or the other, on both of their parts. Audrey Tatou’s talent to display a range of emotions purely by facial expression is an asset in this role. The ending is lovely – and the beautiful lies do continue to the final scene, which is a nice rounding off of the underlying principle – sometimes a little lie can result in a good thing. As usual, France is shown as light and bright, oozing with arty magnificence. Emilie’s character is meant to be a normal, everyday woman who is highly professionally but marred by personality flaws, relationship inadequacies and self-doubts. But Audrey Tatou just can’t help being the stylish, well groomed, immaculately coiffed French woman she is – so there is a visual mis-match there. In every scene she is stylishly excellent – it’s a feast for the eyes. In the salon, Sami Bouajila is cast perfectly as the enigmatic Jean; and Stephanie Lagarde is a great support to the two lead actresses (Tatou and Baye), but it is Judith Chemla’s portrayal of Paulette, the salon receptionist and junior beautician, that is glorious and probably seriously underrated. Look for her in other movies to come as she will be great. Yes, overall I enjoyed this movie – what’s not to like?
Made in 2010. Directed by Pierre Salvadori.