I came across “One Fine Day, A Hairdresser (Un Beau Jour, Un Coiffeur)” because of Julien Baumgartner. Also starring in “You’ll Get Over It (À Cause d’Un Garçon)“, I was intrigued to see more of this attractive actor’s work. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed. Now, don’t get me wrong – this queer short film is interesting to watch. It just is not a masterpiece and feels more like a film student’s final project. Let’s break down what went wrong.
Synopsis of “One Fine Day, A Hairdresser (Un Beau Jour, Un Coiffeur)“
Jérôme (Julien Baumgartner), a philosophy student, doesn’t partake in the social norms like his “young” peers – in fact, he’s a bit socially awkward. After his mother berates him to get his haircut, he finally stops by the barbers. Walking in the door, he suddenly eyes the young male hairdresser. He’s confronted with newfound feelings – is this love at first sight? Unfortunately the female salon owner (Colette Kraffe) offers to take care of Jérôme. But to his pleasant surprise though, Brice (Clément Allanic) eventually styles Jérôme’s hair. Jérôme is lovestruck to the smooth talking of Jérôme as eyes glance back and forth in the mirror. But upon leaving the salon afterwards, Jérôme pauses to wonder: “What is happening to me?” He is so bothered by these new feelings that while about Kant’s musings on beauty at university, Jérôme finds himself flustered. He excuses himself from class, running to the bathroom as he finds himself lost and confused.
While studying in the library with his girlfriend, Claire (Malvina Héraud), Jérôme brings up his dilemma hoping she might have a solution. “Take two aspirin”, she mockingly notes before finally noting that there is no cure when you’re in love. But because Jérôme is so fixated on this hairdresser, Claire takes offence and leaves the library. That night, Jérôme’s sleep is a bit restless – he dreams about Claire seducing him while on the library table. Until Brice suddenly shoves Claire away and takes the focus in what now is an erotic fantasy – that finishes with a mess on Jérôme’s book! Jérôme finally decides to accept his fate. While at the dinner table, he tells his entire family that he’s in love with a hairdresser – a boy hairdresser. Yet, they are unfazed. Suddenly Jérôme has a new problem: how to see the hairdresser again. After a few weeks of growth, and being unable to focus on his studies, Jérôme finally returns to the salon.
Alas, the female owner decides she will take care of him this time since Brice is busy with another client. Melodramatically, Jérôme moans internally as he sacrifices even more of his hair. With a short buzz cut now, Jérôme leaves the salon dismayed; he has run out of excuses to see or talk to Brice. Even worse, he is uncertain what to do next. Claire coldly suggests he get Brice flowers – “he IS a hairdresser”, after all. She finally snaps down and tells Jérôme that he’s studying for a PhD; contemplate ideas forever or find the courage to talk to him directly!
Jérôme finally approaches Brice. When Brice admits that he too has someone special in mind, Jérôme’s excitement rises – until Brice asks Jérôme to come see “her” with him. It turns out that Jérôme doesn’t have the courage to go speak with her by himself. Dejected, Jérôme follows through for his new friend. Brice makes out with the girl while Jérôme wallows in self-pity, ironically only spying loving couples surrounding him. One day though, his mother finally drags him to the swimming club where he’s casually introduced to her swim instructor (Guirlain Géran). Just like before, it’s love at first sight! Except this time, as both of the two men glance each other over, his interest is clearly reciprocated. Finally, Jérôme is happy!
Interestingly enough, the biggest issues I have with “One Fine Day, A Hairdresser” is the reason I usually enjoy most queer French films – the philosophic and thought-evoking element to the script. The trouble here is that it is TOO philosophical! Not only does Director/Writer Gilles Bindi weave in a quip here & there, but he takes it and extra step and wrote Jérôme as a Philosophy student. Not just a student, but grad student who then actually gives a lecture specifically on the physicality of beauty according to Kant! (Perhaps as a TA?) Unfortunately, the philosophical droning continues again and again to the point I am about as bored with it all just as Jérôme’s girlfriend is bored with Jerome talking about the hairdresser.
Additionally, the overall story is a bit far fetched. A straight guy who apparently has never had an ounce of same-sex attraction walks into a hair salon and BAM!, he suddenly finds himself starstruck in love to a guy? And then Jérôme changes his entire lifestyle and image, even going so far as to come out to his family as gay – all before even testing the waters with a man? Sorry, but I don’t buy it; it’s not realistic or at least not how they portray it happening. Yes, I do realise that I personally came out before I had my first time… but that was after years of internal struggle and debate. To make matters worse, once Jérôme has his sights set on Brice, everything else is shoved aside until the real twist is driven home towards the end: the mildly flamboyant hairdresser is actually straight! In true melodrama, Jérôme turns all sour-faced and mopey. At least until his eyes catch the next attractive guy to focus on. Yes, I know that the gay community is often cliched as having the attraction span of a fly – but it’s not THAT bad. (It isn’t, right?)
Now, with all of that aside, there are a few decent moments to “One Fine Day, A Hairdresser.” Some of the cinematographic elements are rather neat, quirky, and even comical. When Jérôme first walks into the salon, we can very nearly see the actual lighting bolt that strikes him with love with how they use the music, camera, and lighting effects at that moment. Later on during his erotic dream, the use of funky music overtakes Jérôme’s fantasy when Brice shoves the girlfriend aside. (The cleanup afterwards is almost even more hysterically humorous!) I especially liked the camera work during dinner scene. Jérôme just sits there pondering while his family hurriedly continue with dinner around him as the camera slowly zooms out. Now, it’s not the smoothest take, but I have to give credit where it’s due – it’s a neat film technique!
As for Julien Baumgartner, I must admit that by the end he is quite the attractive guy! Just by chopping off all of Jérôme’s long hair does wonders and oddly enough, follows his character arc throughout the short film. His acting isn’t horrible, but it’s not great either. I found Julien’s portrayal of Jérôme to be more whiny & melodramatic than deep & philosophical. On the flip side of things, Clément Allanic’s portrayal of Brice is part intriguing – and part cliché. A GAY hairdresser, really? Thankfully, Giles Bindi shatters that cliché by the end when it’s determined that Brice is simply just a metrosexual & attractive guy.
Speaking of Director Giles Bindi, we have him to blame for the awkward choppiness to “One Fine Day, A Hairdresser”. (It was a toss up between calling this queer short fast paced and choppy, but in the end there’s a lack of smooth transitions missing.) Given that Bindi not only directed this queer short film but also wrote the screenplay, we can actually blame many of the short’s flaws on him. According to IMDb, “One Fine Day, A Hairdresser” was Bindi’s first forays into both directing and writing. I’ll give him a slight break as such, but equally I have to critique the final product as delivered. Overall, I just wasn’t impressed.
It seems like my rating of “One Fine Day, A Hairdresser (Un Beau Jour, Un Coiffeur)” is not on par with other reviewers. [At least according to the reviews on IMDb.] Many folks seem to enjoy the lighthearted, almost fantastical plot that posits that first love as a magical bolt of lightening that strikes suddenly and overrides common sense. I don’t, or at the very least I did not find it developed enough to actually be entertaining in this rushed queer short film. Personally, I would avoid watching this short as there are plenty of others that are more enjoyable to watch. But if you do decided to give it a go, it isn’t entirely a bad queer short. If you’ve seen “One Fine Day, A Hairdresser (Un Beau Jour, Un Coiffeur)” – let me know what you thought!