Rated: Not Rated
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Street Date: February 26, 2013
Available On: DVD and Blu-ray
The Film: Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) spends his day traveling in the back of a stretch limo. His job is to play a variety of roles as different characters.
The Extras: “Drive In: The Making of Holy Motors,” Trailers, Interview with Kylie Minogue
Recommendation: Welcome to the avant-garde world of French director Leos Carax and the tour de force performance of Denis Lavant. “Holy Motors” is bizarre. There’s no way around that. It is under explained and wide open for interpretation, but to dismiss it as simply random and without meaning would be a terrible and lazy mistake. The film is at times beautiful, occasional ugly and often surreal but never strays into the pointless brutality of films like “Enter the Void” were the visuals are undermined by a lack of purpose or story.
To a degree “Holy Motors” feels like an anthology of moments connected only by Oscar and his chauffeur Celine (legendary actress Edith Scob), but there are clues scattered here and there that suggests something much more complex. The film’s most accessible scene, a delightfully romantic sequence featuring a stunning performance from Kylie Minogue, is also one of the most revealing. In contrast the scene featuring Eva Mendes as fashion model Kay M is probably the most memorable, but feels somewhat disconnected from the main storyline. This is partly due to the obvious juxtaposition of traditional beauty of the model with the grotesque weirdness of Oscar’s character M. Merde. (who Lavant and Carax introduced in the anthology “Tokyo!”). It lacks the subtle nuances of the scene with Minogue or the tenderness of the moment where a young woman (Elise Lhimeau) meeting with Oscar playing her dying father (there are hints revealed here as well, but I’ll leave you to find or dismiss them).
If you’re adventurous, “Holy Motors” is a welcomed respite from the clichéd conventions of contemporary cinema. If you’re a bit more timid or would rather stick to the mainstream the film might be too experimental for you to appreciate.