‘Chez Jolie Coiffure’: Film Review

Shortly before the credits roll on “Chez Jolie Coiffure,” a customer in the eponymous hair salon asks her stylist, Sabine, if she has any plans to go home this year. Out of context, this sounds like the kind of standard, empty small talk one often makes while having one’s hair cut: what good movies you’ve seen recently, what you’re doing for the holidays, and so on. In this shoebox-sized shop for Cameroonian immigrants in Brussels, however, it’s a far more loaded question, and Sabine’s thin, rueful smile as she answers that she doesn’t know bespeaks a more pained, uncertain future. Rosine Mbakam’s stark, straightforward but subtly potent documentary doesn’t leave Sabine’s tiny workplace once in the film’s 70-minute runtime, viewing her much-traveled, much-punished life through the prism of its four close walls, and the vibrant but vulnerable community that fills the space.
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