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Les Petite couleurs

A delightful actress, Anouk Grinberg is probably best know for playing abused young heroines in Bertrand Blier films ( Mon homme, Merci la vie). This lightweight but thoroughly enjoyable comedy seems designed to offer Grinberg an escape from the role of victim. She plays Christelle, a 35-year-old hairdresser who clobbers her abusive husband when he threatens to give her prized new hairstyling and curling machine to another beautician. Fleeing the scene, Christelle drives aimlessly until she sees the glitzy lights of the Galaxy Motel, where she finds a friendly face in Mona (Bernadette Lafont). The worldly Mona offers Christelle both work as a chambermaid and sound advice about men. Soon, Christelle has new amorous commitments and becomes a peripatetic hairdresser, roaming the countryside to satisfy her delighted clients.
There is more than ‘a little colour’ in director Patricia Plattner’s film, whose images positively glow with bright, garish hues. The colours and oddball humour are used to celebrate rather than interrogate a brand of femininity that’s sweet and flighty. The results make for a charm offensive that’s difficult to resist, especially with Grindberg at her most attractive and the great Lafont (who played one of Claude Chabrol’s good-time girls in Les bonnes femmesway back in 1960) providing strong support. The spirit of the piece is perhaps best summed up in a very amusing running gag about the women’s shared obsession with a mad TV soap called The Love Ranch, in which all the dialogue is sung in French by cowboys, Indians and frontier damsels.

France-Switzerland, 2002. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 96 mins.

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