On a whim, Marc (Lindon), a successful Parisian adman, decides to get rid of the mustache he’s had for years; not only does his wife, Agns (Devos), fail to notice, but when he confronts her, she’s baffled and tells him he’s always been clean shaven. The premise of Emmanuel Carrre’s film (based on his own novel) is brilliantly simple, and the director milks it for all it’s worth with detached efficiency. We’re never entirely sure if Marc is right and his wife is trying to drive him insane—or if Marc got there on his own. Carrre leaves both options open, and gradually paints a portrait of a man ravaged by doubt and sure of only one thing: His sense of identity is in tatters.
Midway through the film, Marc leaves for Hong Kong, then Macao, drifting aimlessly in a surreal state of anomie, as if Antonioni had suddenly picked up a movie started by Hitchcock. La Moustache, naturally, ends on a question mark, albeit one a lot less gory than in the book. You can interpret it in a positive light if you wish, but the shadows at the heart of the movie won’t be any less disquieting. (Now playing; IFC Center.)—Elisabeth Vincentelli