Holy Motors

Holy Motors ★★★★

Holy Motors is an ode to cinema wearing the costume of a surrealist romp through an actor's(?) never-clarified 'appointments' throughout one day in Paris. We are led to believe that Oscar is employed to act out specific and strange scenes, sometimes earnestly acting out traditional cinematic tropes, other times seeming to break the rules of mortality and reality. There is no explanation offered as to why he is playing these strange parts (although in-universe hints are given), and there is no easily-digestible resolution to the story. Thanks to the introduction, I happily threw out trying to make sense of it all, and, as I often find it easiest to absorb and interpret strange and nonsensical narratives, viewed it as a parable or allegory:

How many costumes a day do we wear ourselves? Brother, sister, mother, father, employee, overseer, layabout, overachiever - all are roles we effortlessly slip in to and out of each day. Are any of them the true 'us' underneath? No, but without that inner self, they are just words - empty suits. We give them shape. Not all of the masks we wear are pleasant ones, but we wear them anyway because it is the most basic, subconscious way humans are able to tell each other apart. We turn our costumes into living, breathing personas and it is through those roles that we are identified by others and live out each day in society.

I can understand the claims of pretentiousness and over-indulgence. There are points where Holy Motors tries to be more clever than it needs to be, and refuses to rein itself in from some of the stylistic choices made. For me, however, that underlying connection between cinema and real life was such an interesting and almost optimistic concept, I couldn't stop smiling, and was sad to see the curtain fall.

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts".

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