DIRECTOR: Emmanuel Carrère | WRITERS: Jérôme Beaujour, Emmanuel Carrère | CAST: Vincent Lindon, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric, Hippolyte Girardot | France
La moustache starts with an interesting premise: what if a man shaves off his moustache on a whim and discovers not only that no one who knows him notices, but they all insist he’s never had a moustache in the first place? At first Marc Thiriez thinks his wife Agnès, their friends, and his co-workers are playing a practical joke on him, but his mild irritation quickly gives rise to an existential crisis. Emmanuel Carrère deftly handles the unsettling first hour and we’re never quite sure whether Marc is going insane, the victim of a noirish plot hatched by Agnès with the help of others, or perhaps we’re dealing with an unreliable (implied) narrator. But the wheels come off the plot when Marc impulsively takes a taxi to the airport and flies to Hong Kong to escape. It’s as if Carrère, adapting his own novel (which I haven’t read), didn’t know where to go with his plot; the movie ends on an unsatisfyingly murky note. It’s not that I wanted a neatly tidied-up Agatha Christie ending, but the ambiguity here struck me as confused. Vincent Lindon as Marc couldn’t be better, and Emmanuelle Devos, so superb in Sur mes lèvres, is equally terrific as Agnès. I couldn’t help but wonder what the Alain Resnais of Muriel and Je t’aime je t’aime would have done with this material.