Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Moustache
It comes as no surprise that a film about a distracted man comes across as, well, distracted. If a film about a sad man makes you sad surely there’s some sort of success. Yet, when it comes to distraction, it’s unclear whether an audience following in the footsteps of its hero into a muddled trance is intentional, or an unavoidable byproduct of the story.
In Nepalese director Khyentse Norbu’s Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Moustache, the distracted man in question is Tenzin (Tsering Tashi Gyalthang), a well-dressed entrepreneurial type who is set to open a coffee shop in Kathmandu. If only he could secure the right real estate for his would-be tourist trap, life would go according to plan. Shots of him moving through the crowded city and vast countryside complicate the sense of space within his world. The cinematography leans on its beautiful landscape without justifying its still pace. On his journey, Tenzin is unsure if he is seeing or imagining. The daydreams are overwhelming but only once he is unwittingly told by a monk that he must search out a Dakini to forgive his misdeeds or die within the week do they become detrimental. However, Tenzin is horribly equipped. Step one, he must discover what a Dakini is. The immediate physical task is quickly shaped into a psychological journey to discover values that may steer him away from death.
Its thematic spine is interesting, but the meandering manner in which it is addressed flattens the film’s emotional arc. Even the more charming comic elements, such as a hapless modern-day monk who cracks jokes about the omniscient God (you know the one, Google), donning red over-the-ear headphones, as well as the excited whispers about a Lonely Planet writer, are washed away by the unfocused throughline. There is a clear tension between the old and the new and establishing balance between East and West that is never tackled head-on.
Its resolution brushes off the severity of his week of suffering which, in turn, makes the payoff for its diligent audience a little underwhelming. The result is a film which is intriguing but never gripping, and heartfelt but not quite spirit-lifting. And so the question remains: was the resulting sense of distraction an intentional internal mechanism, or was there perhaps a more engaging way to tackle the modern ailment of a continued lack of focus?
Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Moustache does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Tribeca Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
Watch the trailer for Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Moustache here: