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.
In Holy Motors, Lavant, who was 23 at the time of Boy Meets Girl, is the mirror image of the filmmaker’s own youth, turned into a spectacle and an object of (cinematic) desire – so cinephilic references are part of the game: we are the sum of the films we have beloved.
To say that HOLY MOTORS is Leos Carax’s valentine to film and filmmaking would be appropriate both for the recent holiday and the film that is itself rife with overused clichés. That word is surprisingly apt for Carax’s film, though only in the most literal sense: he addresses the overwrought concepts of filmgoing and filmmaking, but in a uniquely lyrical way that is respective to the madhouse stylings of the wunderkind-film-critic-turned-filmmaker.
Wholly unique cinematic fantasia follows a seemingly anonymous man on a series of 9 "appointments," in which he transforms into vastly different characters, from a panhandling old woman to a finger eating sewer rat to to a dying old man. A bracing and visionary ode to cinema itself, Leos Carax's brilliant HOLY MOTORS is a surrealist triumph infused with mesmerizing dream logic. This is one of a kind.
My new favorite movie? Probably. Labyrinthique, absurd, and always beautiful. A modern masterpiece showing to the audience all the best cinema can offer these days. Welcome back, Leos. And Denis: you are a force of nature when it comes to act. Pour la beauté du geste...
What a fun bit of weirdness! But the end is so lousy, it slightly ruins the film. The ending seemed to have been inspired by Pixar's "Cars". Other than that, I loved it, especially the references to Cocteau, Jean Seberg, and the French B-movie, "Eyes Without a Face".
A Conversation That Doesn't Use Just Words
If you don't like "weird", then by all means stay away from this film. If you don't mind going out on a limb, you will discover an alternate universe full of mystery and surprises. By no means a masterpiece, it is more like an adventure full of weird, weird, weird weirdness and beauty beauty and more beauty if you know what I mean. Take a chance on this bizarre work.
Intriguing and captivating. Maybe there could be a little more mystery about what is truly happening. But the possibility of explanation that we end up getting does not hurt the metaphorical potentiality of this work. We see fragments of the lives of ordinary people and bits of odd narratives in a sequence held together by the main character. And a sugested paralel on real life is quite interesting.