Directed by Leos Carax
Starring Denis Lavant and Edith Scob
Runtime 115min. - Not Rated
4 Stars (out of 4)
Check the Official Site for a screening near you.
Director Leos Carax inserts himself into the opening of "Holy Motors". He wakes up in a small bedroom. He walks up to a painted wall and locates a keyhole. The needed key is attached to his finger. The key turns and a section of the wall opens. It leads to a theater filled with a faceless audience watching an unknown film. The camera's angle eventually penetrates the silver screen and the audience becomes an afterthought.
"Holy Motors" is about a movie character. Not an actor, that would be too straightforward. This is a character in the abstract sense. At one moment he's a banker and family man, moments later he emerges from his limo as an elderly old lady who panhandles on the sidewalk. When he's done, the limo picks him up and it's off to the next appointment. In some roles he is murdered, once he's back in the limo he springs to life and starts studying for his next incarnation. He's a master of disguises.. The back of the limo is actually a dressing room. There's a small mirror, some wardrobes, and seemingly endless supplies of make-up and prosthetics.
|Bizarre, sexy, contortionist motion-capture scene? This movie's got everything.|
There's no traditional narrative in "Holy Motors". Every scene outside the limo seems to be the climax of some fictional film. There are a couple of times that it feels like an actual personality is emerging, but my interpretation is that there is no reality outside the limo. Even when our character seems to be reconnecting with an old flame or committing a vengeful act, it's just an illusion.
The inside of the limo is a realm unto itself. The driver of the limo knows the day's itinerary. She drops him off and picks him up at exactly the right times and exactly the right places. At one point the passenger is visited by a suit-wearing man who projects some sort of authority. He questions whether his employee still has the heart to do his job. The passenger assures him that he does. That's the entirety of the story that plays out in this realm however, and a very weird spin is put on that minimalist plot thanks to one of the most bizarre endings in film history.
|Om nom nom|
Denis Lavant has already started collecting acting trophies for this role and he should continue to throughout awards season. It's amazing to see someone portray a sewer-dwelling ragamuffin with long hair and fingernails who eats flowers left on graves and bites off people's fingers, and then see the same actor cleaned up and marching proudly through a cathedral playing bag pipes. He portrays each role with uniform conviction. Usually when a critic speaks of an actor's "range" they aren't expecting to see the entirety of it in one film. Lavant gives all of it. If he only made this one film for his entire career, then I would classify that career an unequivocal success.
"Holy Motors" is a surrealist's film that invokes memories of David Lynch and Ingmar Bergman. You don't need to be a fan of those director's to enjoy it though. Anyone who looks at cinema as something other than a reason to look at boobs and explosions, or to eat popcorn, should enjoy the film. Revision: They should love the film.