We follow 24 hours in the life of a being moving from life to life like a cold and solitary assassin moving from hit to hit. In each of these interwoven lives, the being possesses an entirely distinct identity: sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, sometimes youthful, sometimes old. By turns murderer, beggar, company chairman, monstrous creature, worker, family man.
Holy Motors, the critics darling of 2012, is as strange, befuddling and pretentious as the gushing reviews suggested it would be. Leos Carax’ first feature film in over a decade is a willfully odd odyssey; a picaresque story of cinema itself and an ode to performance. The committed, certifiable and chameleon-like Denis Lavant plays Mr. Oscar, a man who travels around Paris in a limousine transforming himself into a range of strikingly different characters for reasons left largely up to the audience to decide.
It is a film made for, and by, a particular type of film fan; one steeped in the history of film who enjoys partaking in a game of spot the movie reference. It’s an indulgent, self-satisfied…
To say that Holy Motors has been praised would be the understatement of the century. It has been discussed and interpreted more than probably any other movie this year. Furthermore, seemingly every major critic loves it. It has a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, an 84 on Metacritic, and my boy Film Crit Hulk placed it at the very top of his 2012 list, ahead of Django Unchained, The Master, Looper, and several other terrific titles. However, there's something none of those critics will tell you, and I'm here to give it to you straight: the key to understanding Holy Motors is knowing that Holy Motors SUCKS.
Now, before you prejudge this as another Cosmopolis-style "Dear Fuckers" letter, hear me out,…
Q1. Was this art over substance?
Q2. Was there a point?
Q3. What genre is it?
Q4. Did I like it?
Q5. Did I hate it?
A1-5. I honestly don't fucking know!
Thesis - The movie is an ode to the human body as the most cinematic of objects.
1. The old video that starts the film.
2. The scene trumpeting the humans performing mo cap over the final product itself.
3. An array of physically showy performances - ogre, beggar, killer, musician, singer, grumpy father.
The "Holy Motors" of the title and conclusion, then, is a metaphor for the engine that makes cinema hum - the human body. Carax asks that in our rush to the next cinematic object, we not fall out of love with the original cinematic object.
Great films should grab you by the heart, the mind or the crotch, and Holy Motors clamps its claws around all three. Gets better every time I see it.
This almost feels like a surreal version of the Mediaeval play Everyman. In that play Everyman (representing Man) meets up with a host of allegorical characters representing Life. Through these encounters Everyman learns how to reach salvation, thus completing Life's circle.
If I proceed in this train if thought, Lavant's Oscar is all those allegorical characters rolled up into one creature, a physical manifestation of life, showing us, the Everyman, the state of affairs. And apparently Life is getting old. It is having great difficulty dealing with the rapid, shallow progress we are making and basically has increasing difficulty providing us with our overly demanding urges. Life's own cycle seems to be running towards its end, heading towards its own…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Holy motors is like a million dollar showreel for a modern day Lon Chaney. Is life just an act and our memories appointments? Who knows. I know I'll never look at a limo the same way again.
Is this movie real?
Director Leos Carax plays the role of provocateur in a kaleidoscope of vignettes equal parts fascinating and maddening. A playful, gritty, sordid, absurdist work that'd fit comfortably in the Dadaist movement as it celebrates its own illogic zaniness. Denis Lavant is a big screen chameleon of the highest order, for him alone this film is worth a serious look, his unhinged energy pulses through the screen as he ably fills a myriad of roles ranging from an old beggar lady to a deranged kidnapping troll.
I would not even know how to grade this film, and that is in no way a knock against it.
Vou ter que ler muito a respeito do filme para entendê-lo. Surreal e bizarro. Confesso que não entendi muita coisa. Mas a direção é genial!
This was the third Leos Carax film I've seen. The other two, The Lovers on the Bridge and Boy Meets Girl, often featured momentary glimpses of genius, glimpses that ultimately led to me feeling a bit disappointed they weren't sustained even though they were good overall. That's not the case with Holy Motors, which pretty much consist of 11 sequences of that genius loosely held together and amounts as a whole to a beautiful strange elegy to the filmmaking ways of old. In particular the film mourns the art of performance, which might seem strange since there are still terrific performances being achieved all the time. Yet with the increasing reliance of CGI to aid performers and the popularity of…
Experimental. Abstract. Bizarre. This is what French cinema needed.
Yes, this movie's strange, and I'm not exactly sure yet what it was all about. But it's never boring, and the lead performance makes it worth a watch.