When Donald (Matt Bomer) arrives at Michael’s, he takes his shirt off and throws himself on the friend’s bed. There’s a bottle on the shelf behind the bed and believe me when I say that I’ve spent most of my waking hours (since I watched the film) trying to identify it.
Things took a weird turn a couple of nights ago, when the same bottle popped up in a music video I used to love as a teenager – Poundcake by none other than Van Halen! The 1991 video, directed by Andy Morahan, famously shows Eddie Van Halen using the power drill technique in the introduction and in the solo. But it also features girls showing up for an audition, and that’s where the mysterious bottle appears.
I had just decided to abandon the Boys in the Band bottle to its sad destiny, when the Van Halen showed me the way. I had to identify it! I turned to the place where I know I can always find an answer – the Fragrantica forum – and an answer is what I got. A surprising one.
My mistake? Thinking that bottle was a perfume. Now I know it’s Richard Hudnut Three Flowers/Tres Flores brilliantine, housed in this beautiful glass bottle with aqua green conical stopper.
There’s more: it appears in its original form in the Van Halen video, but it has a different label in the Joe Mantello film and that was the ultimate trap. After much pondering, I’ve realised it’s the same bottle: they just changed the front sticker for the film, probably to make it look like a perfume.
Lots of things happen at the birthday party that Michael organises for Harold: for example, the fight between Emory (Robin de Jesús) and Alan ends up with a split lip. Bernard (Michael Benjamin Washington) takes his friend to the toilet, where they check the wound.
On a shelf in Michael’s bathroom there are four products.
Lena (Penélope Cruz) has several beauty products on her vanity.
There’s a can of L’Oreal Elnett Satin extra strong-hold hairspray.
There’s also a Helena Rubinstein skincare product. The bottle pictured above is just for reference, because the one seen in the film is not All Mascaras! make-up remover. If I remember correctly, this was a cleansing milk.
Next to the Helena Rubinstein bottle there’s Lancôme Trésor body lotion.
When Johnny visits the woman in the window (Deborah MacLaren), we can see some beauty products on glass shelf. The brown spray bottle is Vidal Sassoon blow styling lotion. The bottle next to it looks like a talcum powder bottle; it reminds me of Crabtree & Evelyn old packaging, but not sure about it.
The floral bottle with silver stopper surely stirs some nostalgia: it’s the Cacharel best seller Anais Anais, a romantic white floral scent created in 1978 by Roger Pellegrino, Robert Gonnon, Paul Leger and Raymond Chaillan.
Lucía (Julieta Serrano) is a woman with a troubled past: abandoned by her husband Iván with a child (Carlos, now grown-up and interpreted by Antonio Banderas), she’s spent a long time in a mental institution. Now she’s living with her parents, who try to support her and her extravagant looks.
In this scene, she’s applying her eyeliner. On her dresser there are many beauty products, among which the unmistakable golden spray can of L’Oreal Elnett Satin hairspray.
But there’s also another interesting product – a white jar with pink lid, which screams “Christian Dior skincare”.
It’s impossible to say exactly what product this was, but was for sure part of the Hydra-Dior collection.
It’s not a coincidence that later in the film we see several products from the same line on Pepa’s vanity. Pepa (Carmen Maura) is the former mistress of Iván. She’s another woman “on the verge of a nervous breakdown”, just like Lucía: they’re in love with the same man (who has dumped both of them for another lover) and happen to use the same skincare.
A growing archive of beauty products and perfumes in movies and tv shows