La Moustache (2006) is a psychological thriller,
an adaptation of a novel by Carrere himself, vaguely reminiscent of the theme of
Hitchcock's Notorious and Cukor's Gaslight, except that it does
not provide the answer, and the whole story ends up sounding like a meditation
on the relationship between reality and fiction, between
memory and imagination; a metaphor for the
absurd condition of everyday life,
for the loneliness and irrelevance of ordinary people.
Marc has decided to shave his moustache. He waits for his wife Agnes' surprised
expression when she'll see his new face, but instead she doesn't seem to notice
at all. He keeps staring at her, but she doesn't react. They are invited to
dinner by two friends, Serge and Nadia. Marc notices that Nadia has changed
her hair style, but neither Nadia nor Serge notice that he shaved his moustache.
Serge relates how once he was staying at a hotel with Agnes (therefore they
used to be lovers), and Agnes never
admitted that she turned off the heat in all the other rooms to get her room
heated to the maximum; and she still denies doing it.
On the way home Marc is so upset that he confronts Agnes about the moustache.
She is surprised to hear about it. In bed the topic comes up again. Agnes tells
him that he never had a moustache and is scared by his insistence. Marc thinks
that it is a bad joke, that Agnes told Nadia and Serge to pretend Marc never
had a moustache. Marc pulls out some photos in which he is with her (and has
a visible moustache) but she is already asleep. He leaves them where she
can see them. In the morning he pretends that he is still sleeping and
sees her taking the pictures away.
Marc is an architect. At work nobody notices that he shaved his moustache.
Rummaging the garbage to find evidence of his moustache, Marc
has a hysterical crisis: he is going insane. Agnes still behaves like a loving
wife, sincerely concerned of his mental health.
He seems to admit that much when she says that she never lied to him and
he replies that he knows. She suggests that he sees a psychiatrist.
But at dinner it's she who looks neurotic. He patiently copes with her
whims. Back at home he asks her where she put the pictures in which he has
the moustache, and she doesn't know what he is talking about. He hears
(and erases) a message on the answering machine from his father.
He then talks on the phone to another friend, Bruno, who also denies ever seeing
his moustache. He asks Agnes to cancel their lunch appointment with his
parents: she starts shaking, frightened... his father has been dead for a year.
She gives him a pill to fall asleep. He loses consciousness. Then he wakes up
(or does he?) and overhears Agnes talking to their friend about putting him
away in a mental asylum. Marc gets up and runs out of the door, gets into
a taxi and asks to gives him the address of his parents' place.
But he can't find the place, and, trying to call his mother, he dials a number
that is invalid, and then even asks the phone operator if his father is alive
(either he is dreaming or he is really insane).
Marc jumps into another taxi and heads for the airport. He boards a flight
to Hong Kong with no luggage.
He spends his first day in Hong Kong going back and forth on the same ferry.
Then he pays some fishermen to take him with them at sea for the whole night.
In the morning he finally takes a hotel room. He suddenly has grown a beard
and a moustache. He goes out and then returns. And finds his wife in the
room. She is behaving as if she's always been there. She tells him that the
beard and the moustache are too casual for Paris. So he shaves the beard,
but keeps the moustache. It all seems like they are vacationing together
in Hong Kong. And they have lots of pictures of their vacation, showing him
with the moustache. But he does have (and hide) the postcard that he was
about to mail her to Paris.
Then he shaves the moustache too, and this time she does notice.