Thursday, January 25, 2007

La Moustache

Posted on Thu, Jan 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

La Moustache
Studio: Koch Lorber Films
Release Date: 2007-01-16
Cast: Vincent Lindon, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric, Hippolyte Girardot, Cylia Malki
Director: Emmanuel Carrère
WorkNameSort: La Moustache
So this guy shaves his mustache off, kicking off a slowly unfolding chain of misremembrance, identity crisis and all-around losing his mind. Of course it's a French film. The mustache belongs to midlife malaise victim Marc Thiriez (Vincent Lindon), and the fact that nobody seems to remember him ever having one in the past 15 years is a device meant to represent larger themes. Unfortunately, director Emmanuel Carrère (who also wrote the 1987 novel upon which the film is based) doesn't clarify those themes. Much of Carrère's literary work has dealt with the various functions of self-identification, and that's clearly something that's at play in La Moustache, as the viewer is never entirely sure at which stage of reality we're currently seeing Marc. When his baffled freakouts culminate in a bizarre panic trip to Hong Kong in the third act, the movie goes from curious and puzzling to bat-shit weird. An agonizingly prolonged scene on the Hong Kong ferry ' back and forth and back and forth ' surely represents an existential dilemma, but it winds up feeling more like a French take on Groundhog Day. When Marc comes out of the other end of the rabbit hole by the film's end, the disparate pieces come together in a unique way that's neither completely satisfying nor blithely patronizing.


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