This erotic comedy turns 15 this year and still shows no sign of viewers droop. Vital and vibrant, it whispers the succinct story of Antoine, a young French boy with a passion for dancing to Middle-Eastern music and having his haircut by the buxom local barber.
As Antoine (Jean Rochefort) matures his interests do not and into middle age he dances and lusts after the hands in his hair and those breasts at the back of his head. Eventually he realises his dream when his somewhat premature proposal to a young and beautiful coiffeuse, Mathilde (Anna Galiena), is met with an appropriately delayed acceptance. Here begins a tender, eccentric and honest romance.
Antoine moves into Mathilde's salon, where they shun the realities of the outside world in favour of feeding-off their fairytale. Many strange but true characters pass through the salon under the reclusive couples' inspection, resulting in many light-hearted moments and light-footed demonstrations from Antoine.
Alas, the production is not inherently joyous as a sub-text of sorrow, loss of love and mortality is skilfully woven through the otherwise hazy glaze.
The Hairdresser's Husband makes for perfect Sunday afternoon viewing. Light and lucid, it simply skips through a bright, yet dreamlike, coastal France. Although packaged as an erotic work, the overlying innocence and soft tones of the production make it something more, something greater. Despite the fact that this is a story about a newly formed couple who barely leave their home, where one partner is 36 and the other 60, there is never a suggestion of anything sleazy, untoward or wrong about it.
This is one of writer/director Patrice Leconte's true skills, with the help of a sublime cast who draw their characters superbly and a lighting crew that seems to have taken the half-light of morning for their own.
The film sums itself up with the simplest explanation of binary code I have ever encountered. Whilst sitting down to dinner, the young Antoine's father explains that a cat is one head, four legs and a tail whereas a binary cat is one head, one leg, one leg, one leg, one leg, one tail.
It is this code of simplicity and the skill with which it is delivered that makes the film great - that and an ending, which I really didn't see, coming.