×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Moustache

When a man spontaneously shaves off the title occupant of his upper lip in "The Moustache," an apparent shift in the fabric of the universe results. Viewers who like their conclusions tidy may rebel, but those who relish outstanding perfs in the service of an intriguing idea will be entertained.

With:
With: Vincent Lindon, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric, Hippolyte Girardot, Cylia Malki, Macha Polikarpova, Teresa Li, Yuen Hei Poon.

When a man spontaneously shaves off the title occupant of his upper lip in “The Moustache,” an apparent shift in the fabric of the universe results. Adapting his own 1986 novel, Emmanuel Carrere — whose books “Class Trip” and “The Adversary” became Cannes Competition titles by Claude Miller and Nicole Garcia, respectively — provides a feast of sustained tension as the man’s wife and his closest friends deny that he ever had a moustache. Viewers who like their conclusions tidy may rebel, but those who relish outstanding perfs in the service of an intriguing idea will be entertained.

Awash in unsettling, matter-of-fact contradictions that are deliciously open to interpretation, pic’s tone is a bit like “Gaslight” meets Roman Polanski’s “The Tenant.”

Architect Marc (Vincent Lindon) and his wife Agnes (Emmanuelle Devos) live in a beautiful multi-level Paris house that’s the height of classy contempo design. As they prepare to join friends (Mathieu Amalric, Macha Polikarpova) for dinner, Marc, on a whim, shaves off the moustache he’s apparently worn his entire adult life. The process is filmed with ritualistic intensity: Marc is meticulous, capturing stray hairs in a porcelain dish, cleaning up the evidence of foam and facial debris like a conscientious chambermaid.

But Agnes doesn’t notice the change. And, their friends don’t comment on the radical alteration either. Is this some kind of group plot, some conspiracy of silence?

When Marc says it’s time to halt the charade, Agnes hasn’t the slightest idea what he’s referring to. When he spells it out, she assures him he never had a moustache. Snapshots from a 2003 vacation would seem to settle the issue, but only increase the blossoming unease.

Helmer gets incredible mileage out of tale’s deceptively simple catalyst. Pic — told entirely from beleaguered protag’s p.o.v. — can be read as a deft riff on how men and women sometimes perceive the same situation differently; as a subjective glimpse of creeping paranoia; as a full-bore unraveling of one or more personalities; or as an ever-shifting buffet of all three approaches.

Lindon and Devos couldn’t be better as the well-matched, well-to-do couple whose romantic partnership appears to be under fire from the gods of perception.

Lensing and editing render each development and each new clue crystal clear despite narrative’s aggregate ambiguity. Rarely has the trippy maxim “Wherever you go — there you are” been so well depicted. An insistent Philip Glass violin concerto is used to fine effect.

Popular on Variety

The Moustache

France

Production: A Pathe Distribution release of an Anne-Dominique Toussaint presentation of a Les Films des Tournelles, Pathe Renn Production, France 3 Cinema production with participation of Canal Plus and TPS Star, in association with CNC, Cofimage 16, Uni Etoile 2 and with support from Ile-de-France Region, Fondation GAN, Procirep. (International sales: Pathe, Paris.) Produced by Anne-Dominique Toussaint. Directed by Emmanuel Carrere. Screenplay, Jerome Beaujour, Carrere, based on Carrere's novel.

Crew: Camera (color), Patrick Blossier; editor, Camille Cotte; music, Philip Glass' Concerto for Violin and Orchestra; production designer, Francoise Dupertuis; costume designer, Elisabeth Tavernier; sound (Dolby), Laurent Poirier, Herve Guyader, Emmanuel Croset; associate producer, Romain Le Grand; assistant director, Elizabeth Marre. Reviewed at Forum des Images, Paris, April 27, 2005. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Directors Fortnight.) Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Vincent Lindon, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric, Hippolyte Girardot, Cylia Malki, Macha Polikarpova, Teresa Li, Yuen Hei Poon.

More Film

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    Why Emma Stone Was Haunted by Fear of Vomiting While Shooting 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains a slight spoiler for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” The zombie slayers are back! Ten years after Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin first killed dead people walking in “Zombieland,” they’ve reunited for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” “You take stock of your life a little bit,” Stone says of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content