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October 06, 1994 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-10-06

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, October 6, 1994 - 3

Better Nate Than Never

'Olivier, Olivier' mirrors life, ignores fairy-tale ending

Shear terror

It takes a little more Prell to wash
ose locks each morning. Only
Weatherman White Rain will do. Just
one squirt of Brylcream doesn't cut it
anymore. People start confusing you
with Crystal Gayle. People start con-
fusing you with Cousin It. Your mom
ends her letters with: "Maybe you
could try and get a haircut tomorrow
- it's been four weeks."
Those are just some of the subtle
Onts that remind us that it's time to
take a little off the top. On a scale of
enjoyable things to do, haircuts rank
right between taking an oral Spanish
exam and watching "Live with Regis
and Kathie Lee."
But it hasn't always been that way.
Gone are the good old days when men
went to a respectable barber who gave
an efficient haircut, pausing to talk
gout baseball or to ask about sideburn
'f'ngth. Gone are the days when
women went to beauticians named
Flo and spent the day in curlers with
a deafening "Pigs in Space" dryer on
their heads, but always managing to
gossip about the locals and exchange
casserole recipes. Gone are the days
when kids got their locks trimmed by
any relative or friend who could al-
'jost cut a straight line around a bowl.
We now have the privilege of go-
ing to places called "Sheer Cutting
Edge Express" that consist of a dozen
or so "hairstylists," one of whom will
randomly assign themself to you.
After spending 20 minutes reading
People magazine or Highlights for
Children, a stylist - usually named
Ginny - approaches and says, "Did
you want a haircut?" Wanting to
y, "No, I thought this was One-
our Martinizing," but remembering
that Ginny can cut my scalp open, I
say "Yes."
The following conversation then
Ginny: "So, how do you want it?"
Me: "Basically, just shorter all
Ginny: "OK. Do you wear your
ir to one side?"
Me: "Yes, where it's parted."
Ginny: "OK. And do you want
me to cover up the gray?"
Me: "But doesn't that take an aw-
ful long time?"
Ginny: "Not with Just For Men."
Me: "Wait. I'm not graying."
Ginny: "Oh, OK. Did you want
any sideburns?"
Me: "Just as much as I have now."
" (This last question is sometimes
replaced with, "Straight across the
ear?" which is hairstylistese for "I
want to sweep your sideburns up off
the linoleum tonight.")
The haircut begins with the spray-
bottle period and some stimulating
conversation on the weather and then
it dissipates (the conversation) as the
actual cutting takes place. My mind
.sually drifts off to topics like, "I
wonder how high this chair can go,"
'Do they really use all those kinds of
:nousse," "That's sure a lot of ceiling
iles" and "I hope she doesn't cut my
That last concern is an important
ane, as I've had my ear cut twice, by
lifferent hairstylists. During the deli-
.ate, final vibrating razor stage -
ight before they take off the napkin
ktie-the hairdresser's mind drifts
*ff, probably to ceiling tiles and
mousse as well, and then it's
BZZZZZZ. "Oh, no!" the hairstylist
exclaims, while wiping up blood with

t le neck napkin.
There is then an awkward conver-
Ginny (thinking "I went through
this whole haircut and now I'm not
tting a tip"): "I'm sorry. Are you
Me (thinking "I hope I can get out
of this place before she tries to shave
my neck"): "I'm fine. Don't worry
about it."
But few hair traumas are as bad as

If art mirrors life, somewhere
there's a disturbed family watching
themselves in the 1993 French film,
"Olivier, Olivier." Everyone else will
find something masochistically in-
triguing about director Agnieszka
Holland's portrayal of a family that
nobody could possibly envy but upon
which everybody will effortlessly
unleash their voyeuristic instincts.
The first scenes of the film are
somewhat deceiving. Young Olivier
(Emmanuel Morozof) and Nadine
(Faye Gatteau) romp through fields
playing Martians and are tucked into
bed by their loving mother, Elizabeth
(Brigitte Rouan). At least for a while
it's possible to disregard the father's
(Francois Cluzet) abusiveness, the
mother's blatant favoritism towards
Olivier and the fact that not all is right
in the Duval household.
But come afternoon the following
day, all hints of normalcy have disap-
peared, along with Olivier, his bike

and a red 49ers cap. Elizabeth goes
off the deep end, leaving Nadine and

her father Serge to flounder in her
The next thing we know, six years
have past, and Olivier has returned.
Or so it seems. Anyway, everything
seems better on the surface, but with
all that's going on behind closed doors,
the audience is not to be fooled.
Presenting one shock after another,
Holland makes heads reel. The fre-
quent hints of incestuous tendencies
between all combinations of mother,
son and daughter are unnerving, as
are the violent outbursts, both physi-
cal and verbal, between mother and

The almost gothic music that ac-
companies many of these scenes and
others seems too dramatic, yet the
film often comes close to living up to
The characterization of the older
Olivier (Gregoire Colin) adds to the
complexity of an already multi-di-
mensional films. He's hard to place,
as sometimes you're shaken by his
youthful sensuality and other times
you want to shake Elizabeth for being
taken by the affection that we can

recognize as insincere.
Colin should be commended for
succeeding in the difficult task of
portraying a character who, as far as
his family is concerned, is a blank
slate with the mysterious qualities of
someone who seems to have risen
from the dead.
One of the few inferior qualities of
"Olivier, Olivier" is its brief, yet
memorable, use of the supernatural.
Although Nadine, the recipient of the
powers, seems slightly bewitched
throughout the film, itfs not until she

stares at a shelf in the bathroom and
consequently knocks it over that her
true nature is revealed. This incident
occurs too late in the film for it to
deserve any legitimacy, making it a
blemish on Holland's otherwise bril-
liant film.
In the end, which shall remain a
secret, Holland doesn't disappoint.
He spares nothing for the sake of
delicacy throughout the film and is
careful not to undermine this achieve-
ment with a fluffy fairy tale ending.

- C
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