Movie Review

Thriller begins with close shave

Seattle Post-IntelligencerAugust 11, 2006 

  • 3 stars

    CAST Vincent Lindon, Emmanuelle Devos.

    DIRECTOR Emmanuel Carrere.

    LENGTH 1 hours, 26 minutes.

    THEATER Cary: Gallaxy.

    RATING Not rated (contains mature themes and brief language).

    NOTE In French with English subtitles.

The elegant and enjoyably disorienting French drama "La Moustache" is the story of Marc (Vincent Lindon), a handsome, successful Parisian whose life begins to unravel after he impulsively decides to shave off the moustache he has had for several years.

First, his live-in girlfriend, Agnes (Emmanuelle Devos), doesn't even notice his facial hair is missing. Then, when he grows frustrated by her oversight and angrily calls her attention to the change, she claims he's never had a moustache.

After that, he finds pictures of himself with the moustache and tries to show her. But she can't or won't see it, and when their best friends back her up, he begins to suspect that everyone he knows is in on an elaborate practical joke.

It soon becomes apparent that it's no joke -- and the movie is no comedy -- when other elements of his life begin to slip away, and his friends suspect he's going out of his mind and they conspire to have him committed to a mental institution.

As he takes flight, the film becomes a curiously riveting existential thriller that, on the one hand, fits rather snugly into the growing cycle of films about memory loss that have filled the screen in the wake of "Memento" six years ago. On the other hand, it pays tribute to the French New Wave of the '50s and '60s, specifically the great works of Alain Resnais ("Last Year at Marienbad") that take place in a fractured world in which reality seems to be endlessly shifting between parallel planes of existence.

However you want to interpret it, "La Moustache" is a satisfying psychological adventure that powers along nicely on its movie-star performances, the graceful craftsmanship of Emmanuel Carrere's direction and a haunting violin concerto by Philip Glass.

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