In Khyentse Norbu’s “In Search of a Lady with Fangs and Mustache”, a Nepalese entrepreneur seeks spiritual enlightenment, hoping to avoid a fatal prophecy. Seeking to set up a new cafe, Tenzin (Tsering Tashi Gyalthang) sees disturbing visions after exploring an abandoned temple. With growing fear, he follows the gnomic suggestions of a toned Buddhist monk and a wise master, who insists that he find a manifest goddess on earth, known as the dakini.
Writer-director Norbu, a Buddhist spiritual leader directing his fifth feature film, introduces Tenzin as a modern, hip guy in bluejeans with a broad smile that disappears as soon as he has to seek self-awareness. The warm streets of Kathmandu become like a place without a map for Tenzin as he scrutinizes passing strangers for signs of divine femininity and leaves his business partners in awe. There’s a slight narrative echo of the romantic comedy as the monk and wise master give him ritual advice and gestures, and it looks like the woman he’s looking for might be right under his nose, in the form of a singer (Tenzin Kunsel) from his music lessons. .
Mark Lee Ping Bing, Wong Kar-wai’s magical cinematographer, films spooky riverbanks and saturated views of the countryside. As I scanned the sites and people with Tenzin, I started to worry that I was missing something too, wondering if I was misreading the signs or lingering on the rambling play of the lead role. Yet, at least for the uninitiated, the drift of cinema seemed to fall short of the transcendence envisioned by its history.
Looking for a lady with a fang and a mustache
Unclassified. In Tibetan and Nepalese, with subtitles. Duration: 1 hour 53 minutes. Look through virtual cinemas.