Holy Motors Film Review
Having just read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that iconic moment with Deep Thought and the meaning of life, the universe, and everything kept springing to mind throughout watching Holy Motors. Why? Well, people have called Holy Motors baffling. They’ve called it ridiculous. They’ve called it nonsensical. The majority have also proclaimed it a masterpiece; it’s all of these things. I can’t help but think that this film provides all the answers we’d need, if only we knew the questions to ask.
Like the best surrealist art, it works on a subconscious level. It’s obvious that Leos Carax isn’t just pulling things out of thin air when we get an accordion interlude, or a psychopathic tunnel dwelling creature, or a shooting in a restaurant, apropos of nothing. Monsieur Oscar is ferried around in a giant white limo, funded by an agency of which we learn almost nothing, and supplied with a set of disguises that he knows intimately, and is able to use to great effect.
Everyone’s interpretation is different. After one of his missions, Oscar is questioned by an unnamed interrogator if he still enjoys his work, to which he responds that he “misses the cameras”. He goes on to say that where once they were heavier than him, now you can’t see them at all. It seems like the agency Oscar works for provides dramatic situations in life, to which people respond emotionally. It’s probably reaching to ascribe that level of narrative meaning on the film, and Carax intends nothing more than to create something beautiful that doesn’t make total narrative sense. In fact not everything needs a conventional start, middle, and end – this film does have those things, just not in a conventional way.
It’s also beautiful to look at – Paris is a filmmaker’s paradise, and Carax makes great use of its darkened streets. Denis Lavant, who plays Oscar, is just incredible – his range as an actor grows and grows, and it’d be difficult to imagine Holy Motors being as successful without Lavant front and centre. From his performance as a writhing motion capture actor to a bent old woman begging on the Seine, he makes the film. The camera never leaves him for very long, with good reason. Eva Mendes gives a great performance as Kay M, as does Kylie Minogue; two personalities whom you would never expect to be involved in a project as avowedly unconventional, or as small as this one, so all credit to them.
Essentially, it’s great. Probably a classic. See it.