La Moustache (2005)

In the French film La Moustache husband Marc Thiriez (Vincent Lindon) decides, on a whim, to shave off his moustache. He expects his wife, Agnes (Emmanuelle Devos) to make a comment, and he’s astounded and then angry when she fails to notice. His anger leads to a confrontation, but this has unexpected results. Agnes denies that Marc has ever had a moustache. What’s more, when Marc digs old out photos that depict him sporting a moustache taken years ago in Bali, Agnes denies that they ever made the trip. Out of sheer frustration, Marc produces his cast-off moustache hairs as proof. But arguments about who is right leads to alienation between Agnes and Marc, and she insists that Marc needs to see a psychiatrist.

At first, La Moustache is intriguing, and it’s unclear what is going on. Is Agnes playing some sort of mind game with her husband? Is she trying to drive him to the brink of insanity? Or is Marc delusional, or having a nervous breakdown?

Instead of providing any sort of answers here, the film becomes annoyingly more vague as Marc’s existentialist crisis deepens, and what could have been a good film becomes lost in its own murkiness. This is a film that is based on a very simple premise, and then as the story unfolds, the viewer is left to decipher reality and the film’s cryptic meaning. While it’s not a problem in itself to be left guessing and toying with the idea of who exactly is the sane one here–Marc or Agnes–this esoteric film fails to deliver any satisfactory conclusion. Great performances from both Devos and Lindon–along with gorgeous interspersed scenes of water–did not salvage the film for me.

Cache is a recent French release that also deals with the idea of reality. And one of the film’s big questions is who is sending videotapes and nasty drawings to the film’s protagonist played by Daniel Auteuil. Cache doesn’t provide all the answers, and some viewers may be disturbed by that fact. I, for one, loved Cache, and found its inconclusiveness intriguing. I wish I could say the same about La Moustache. It was a disappointment. La Moustache is directed by Emmanuel Carrere. In French with English subtitles.


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