From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man. He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part—but where are the cameras?
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Formally, the film is an excuse for Carax to try as many styles as he can—slapstick comedy, rock musical, monster movie—and reference a century’s worth of cinephilia. And Lavant is the vehicle for his director’s versatility, trying on a variety of (dis)guises . . . and proving himself in the process to be one of the wildest and most inventive physical comedians of all time.
Holy Motors is a rich bounty for the mind and an adventure for the heart. Directing attention solely to the astonishing performances or the chaotic narrative structure would be at once too expansive and too limiting. To concentrate on one specific element – the masterful music, heightened colour, indirect tone or formal successes – is a recipe for a thesis. A fluid and inspired creature, Holy Motors will be many things to many people.