Shelley Duvall likened sex with Woody Allen in Annie Hall to a Kafkaesque experience. Hard to believe anyone could mean that as a compliment but the analogy makes sense: the idea of Woody Allen having sex with anyone boggles the mind. La Moustache is less inscrutable than Alvy Singer to deserve the same such assessment, but don’t hold what the critics are saying about this film against writer-director Emmanuel Carrère. The film is an unpretentious blank slate—almost totally without point but so unassuming it earns consideration. The story is simple: Marc (Vincent Lindon) tells his wife Agnès (Emmanuelle Devos) that he is going to shave off his moustache, but when he does it, no one, including his friends, appears to notice (or remember he had one). An impasse is reached: When he’s threatened with institutionalization for harping on the issue, Marc runs off to Hong Kong where he plays out a less inscrutable version of Michel Subor’s existential crisis from The Intruder. I prefer the mysterious textures of Agnes Godard’s camerawork and Stuart Staples’s ambient-techno drone for Claire Denis, but the waterlogged, mirror-obsessed imagery of this film, along with the repeated use of “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra” by Philip Glass, succinctly expresses the idea of conscious and unconscious forces battling for attention. The film is scarcely forceful, inviting any and all interpretations but never daring one itself. I’m not sure if this exposes Carrère as a philosopher without a point of view or indicates a refreshing form of art-house charity. Perhaps that’s for us to interpret as well.
- IFC Films
- 86 min
- Emmanuel Carrère
- Jérôme Beaujour, Emmanuel Carrère
- Vincent Lindon, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric, Hippolyte Girardot, Cylia Malki, Macha Polikarpova, Fantine Camus
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