Holy Motors has incited two varying cult like reactions: praise bordering on sanctification and atheistic vehement in opposition to said holiness. Is writer/director Leos Carax amplifying a dizzying Lynchian filmic experience that plays with the philosophical foundations of cinema? Or instead does this series of vignettes fail to resonate and come of as pretentious tripe? Holy Motors is wonderfully – equally both.
A traveling ‘performer’ Oscar journeys through Paris inhabiting characters that occupy divergent worlds; business men, beggars, motion capture performers, horrific cannabilistic street leprechauns, hard working fathers, gangsters and elderly dying men.
Holy Motors is not your passive viewing experience, it’s like being dropped into the ocean along a foreign coastline – there are recognizable phenomena but getting to surer footing is no comfort. You’re in unfamiliar territory. The most basic act taking place, a professional being driven around to different clients and although the locales occupy a familiar reality it’s repeatedly called into question through Oscar’s characters imposition on the environment. You’re in an investigative mode trying to impose motivation and glean ‘facts’ about what Oscar’s motivations are and what his place is in this universe. And throughout – you only find yourself asking more questions.
The commitment from Denis Lavant to inhabit the characters convincingly is incredible. From heartbreaking affective heart-wrenching fatalist portrayals of old men to monstrous, cretinous ghouls. It’s more in one performance than people do in a career.
Yes it’s a disarming and potent experience but Holy Motors didn’t quite make me a believer. It’s a film that is going to get more enjoyable on repeat analytical viewings , trying desperately to unpack the world and imposing meaning upon it with fellow cinefiles.
and a half
Directed by: Leos Carax
Written by: Leos Carax
Starring: Denis Lavant, Eva Green Kylie Minogue, Edith Scob
Holy Motors is released in Australia on the 23rd of August 2012