Starring: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes
Directed by: Leos Carax (“Tokyo!”)
Written by: Leos Carax (“Tokyo!”)
It’ll take some time to realize what exactly is going on during a trippy ride via limo in Leo Carax’s drama/fantasy film “Holy Motors.” Once it all comes together, however, most moviegoers will do one of two things: brace themselves for another stretch of bizarre narrative until they get to the finish line or toss themselves out of the moving vehicle before his or her brain explodes.
The latter will more than likely be executed by those who cannot appreciate the unique style, artistic beauty and downright madness of Carax’s vision, which might ultimately be undefinable to the masses. It’s an easy film to cast aside if one is not up to the demands it makes to its audience. Still, if you are a moviegoer who accepts the challenge Carax offers, “Holy Motors” is still not very fulfilling when all is said and done.
In the film, Carax takes us on an avant-garde expedition through Paris with Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), a mysterious man who is in some kind of weird role-playing experiment in which he portrays a number of different characters in interesting scenarios. For example, in one scene (they are called “assignments” in the film), Oscar plays a zombie-like creature traveling through the sewer system. In another he is a crippled old woman begging in the streets. In another, he is the leader of an accordion troupe performing in a church.
Don’t expect any of these vignettes to come together at the end. These are separate scenes Oscar is involved in, so nothing ties together without digging a bit deeper. Metaphorically, however, the stories behind “Holy Motors” could mean a lot more depending on what you deduce from Carax’s message about identity and fantasy and the art of cinema itself. The film begins inside a movie theater with patrons staring at a screen and Oscar gazing at them from the back of the cineplex. It’s an open-ended way to introduce the film’s main character without making a solid statement about his inspiration or intent.
There are no easy answers to “Holy Motors.” Lavant is amazing enough for those who refuse to wrap their heads around the script, but his performance can only go so far. What’s left is a thought-provoking and wild piece of filmmaking unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.