The heroine of Claude Goretta's The Lacemaker is a sweet but too silent apprentice hairstylist who, once initiated into the security and joy of a firm relationship with a man, cannot free herself from the passivity of her former existence. Beatrice lives at home with her widowed mother. She is befriended by a sexy woman who also works at the beauty parlor. They go on vacation to Normandy where Beatrice meets Francois, an intense and intellectual university student. With exquisite care, he introduces her to sex and asks Beatrice to live with him in Paris. Soon Francois realizes that they are worlds apart both socially and intellectually. She is much too passive. After he leaves her, Beatrice has an emotional breakdown and ends up in a mental institution.
Goretta (The Invitation, The Wonderful Crook), takes this soap opera plot and turns it into a touching portrait of first love. Near the end, however, he almost throws it all away by inferring that the student's rejection of Beatrice has political roots. Isabelle Huppert's performance as the pretty, tongue-tied girl who can't verbally express her feelings is the best reason to see The Lacemaker.