Mascara

  • 1987
  • 1 HR 38 MIN
  • NR
  • Thriller

While attending the festive premiere of the opera "Orfeo ed Euridice," police superintendent Sarrazin is called away to investigate an apparent suicide. He leaves behind his widowed sister (Rampling), who is quickly befriended by the show's costume designer (De Lint). In his office the following day, Sarrazin is given information by a known transvestite...read more

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While attending the festive premiere of the opera "Orfeo ed Euridice," police superintendent Sarrazin is called away to investigate an apparent suicide. He leaves behind his widowed sister (Rampling), who is quickly befriended by the show's costume designer (De Lint). In his office the

following day, Sarrazin is given information by a known transvestite (Haag) indicating that the death he is investigating is a murder, a notion he rejects contemptuously. Sarrazin then unexpectedly requests Euridice's costume from De Lint for a friend to wear at a surprise birthday party. De Lint

agrees, but only after he has convinced himself that the costume will be worn by Rampling, with whom he has become infatuated. De Lint guardedly accompanies Sarrazin and the costume to Mister Butterfly, an underground nightclub along the coast. After De Lint is locked in a subterranean dressing

room, Sarrazin presents the dress to Deumner, a youthful transvestite with whom he has carried on a lengthy platonic relationship. In Deumner's dressing room after the performance, Sarrazin works himself into a frenzy as he describes the happiest memory of his adolescence--a public display of

affection that he received from his sister following her confirmation. Deumner mistakes this as a declaration of love and comes on to the policeman, prompting a maniacal eruption from Sarrazin that results in Deumner's death. This emotional rage turns into insane jealousy when Sarrazin learns that

De Lint's friendship with Rampling has blossomed into an affair. When Haag becomes suspicious of the detective following the disappearance of Deumner, Sarrazin borrows the costume again and entices Haag into wearing it during her next performance at the club. Duplicating the method he used to

eliminate Deumner, Sarrazin murders Haag and tries to frame De Lint, who, in the meantime, has been telling Rampling about Sarrazin's unusual behavior. The now-deranged Sarrazin invites De Lint to accompany him again to the nightclub, where he himself dons the gown and performs the opera on stage.

Still wearing the gown after the show, Sarrazin provokes De Lint with his sexual advances, beats him in the labyrinthine corridors, then knocks him through a railing and into the raging sea below. When Rampling arrives, Sarrazin declares his love for her before toppling from the pier. After De

Lint is pulled from thhe water unharmed, the pair unite in a desperate embrace.

In MASCARA, director Patrick Conrad has provided a humorous and intriguing chronicle of a character's absurd descent into madness. He unleashes his characters in the exotic worlds of opera and transvestism--both of which prominently feature the use of masks--to explore the secret malevolence that

underlies their behavior. Sarrazin's love for his sister has been as impossible to control as it has been to express. His sister, Rampling, knows of his obsessions, but she fears confronting them and as a result has become a veritable prisoner in his maddening world. Moreover, it is implied that

Sarrazin may be responsible for Rampling's widowhood. The film continually focuses on impenetrable surfaces and enigmatic dialog. Surface reality is frequently meant to deceive, and the characters are often confused. Outside the window of De Lint's flat, Rampling watches the separate planes of sea

and land meld together. The blueness of the water suddenly becomes indistinguishable from the glistening blondness of the sand. It is this presentation of a world that walks the fine line between the real and the unreal, and frequently blurs the distinctions between them, that gives the film its

strength.

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  • Released: 1987
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: While attending the festive premiere of the opera "Orfeo ed Euridice," police superintendent Sarrazin is called away to investigate an apparent suicide. He leaves behind his widowed sister (Rampling), who is quickly befriended by the show's costume designe… (more)

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