Beauty Mark

Beauty salesgirl finds an unlikely friendship in one of her customers. Life affirming drama with Maggie Gyllenhall.

Genre: Drama

Length: 11 minutes 19 seconds

Free To View

4.5 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Dana Brunetti,

Director/s : Cameron Thrower, 

Writer/s : Cameron Thrower, 

Actor/s : Maggie Gyllenhall,, Conor O'Farrell


Maggie Gyllenhall calling

It’s not often we get a genuine A-list star in a short film, especially one that’s free to view. We have Jameson’s Irish Whisky’s “First Shot” scheme to thank for this one.

In Beauty Mark, Maggie Gyllenhall plays Valerie, preparing for work as a door-to-door beauty product saleslady in 1980s suburban America.

Looking like an air hostess (not “cabin crew”, not Valerie), she proudly sashays to the front door of one of her regular customers. But Mrs Walters won’t be needing her any more, says Mark, her middle-aged son. She passed away. But there is someone at  home who could use her help.

Valerie waits inside, as Mark goes to find this new customer. Mark returns, dressed in women’s clothes. He’ll buy anything, if she’ll teach him how to apply it.

Valerie overcomes her initial distaste, and her mission, to make women look and feel beautiful, has a new outlet. Maggie Gyllenhall’s acting is as warm and professional as Valerie’s smile. Conor O’Farrell plays Mark superbly, revealing his embarrassment, confusion, and self-effacing likeability as she works on his face. Tom Hanks could not have done better. When he goes to the mirror and sees himself transformed, we share his fulfilment. Valerie says “It’s Umbrella Waterproof Mascara Number 4, so you just go ahead and cry, ” and the pathos overflows.

As that line indicates, it’s beautifully written by writer/director Cameron Thrower, and entertaining throughout. The superficially liberating, even radical message is heartwarming. Gender need not be constrained by either biology or society, it says; and Valerie’s slogan “Ladies first, ladies together” is empowering.

And yet… isn’t this at root conservative make-up porn, with a fundamental message that women are defined by cosmetic beauty? Isn’t the conclusion (which I won’t divulge) deeply sexist and male-focused, however neat and charming?

You be the judge.