Holy Motors (Full Version)

All Forums >> [Film Forums] >> Film Reviews


Empire Admin -> Holy Motors (30/9/2012 8:09:03 PM)

Post your comments on this article

homersimpson_esq -> Holy Motors (30/9/2012 8:09:03 PM)

Before last week, when I was flicking through a copy of Sight and Sound, I had never heard of Leos Carax. His last film had been out ten years or so ago. Back then I was busy about to become a new father and, furthermore, my international film viewing was woefully inadequate. Since he is apparently not spoken of much, it is perhaps unsurprising I had never heard of him. However, since the press for this film has been almost uniformly positive, praising its beauty while scratching heads at its meaning, it became one of those “have to see” films. So I did. True story.

Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) is a businessman of unspecified employment. Over the course of a day and a night he is engaged in a variety of assignments which require him to become – act – different things. A vagrant, an old man, a father, a lover, and, in a memorable scene within a film made entirely of memorable scenes, a motion-capture actor, playing out a perverse CGI love scene like no other. The scene will not be appearing in The Hobbit. Few words are exchanged – there are conversations between M. Oscar and his driver Celine (Édith Scob), but Oscar is largely quiet between his “scenes”.

Going in “blind” to Carax’s oeuvre and intent, I am reacting to what is on screen. Not to what Carax may have intended, or is portraying, but what the final product says to me. With a film as mellifluous and picaresque as this, interpretation is king. It becomes clear (insofar as anything in this film is clear) that Oscar is playing to an audience. We never see the cameras – it is mentioned that the cameras have become smaller, more surreptitious – and so one starts to consider: are we the audience? The film opens with a shot of an audience. The screen as mirror. Oscar is playing to an unseen audience, and never reacts direct to camera; never breaks the fourth wall, arguably because he cannot see the cameras. The un-clarified audience have a range of assignments for Oscar, such that it is almost like channel-hopping. Through the wild variance of roles, we build a picture not only of Oscar, but also of cinema itself.

Each role can, arguably, be seen as a facet of Oscar himself. As father, lover, old man. As vagrant, as mo-cap actor. In that scene, particularly, it is Denis Lavant playing Oscar playing a mo-cap actor playing a CGI character. We have to go deeper. Where does reality end and fiction begin? At what remove is believability no longer a consideration? Similarly, the film is replete with filmic references. As with ParaNorman, I am confident many references sailed above my head. The film is dense and packed and will be rewarding after multiple viewings, and after other films have been viewed in between. But Kylie Minogue – a superb piece of acting – is visually reminiscent of Jean Seberg in Breathless, while Édith Scob dons a mask that recalls her role in Eyes Without A Face.

Is it pretentious? Yes. Is it going divide people hugely? Oh, yes. Is it murky, unclear, ambiguous, and indefinable? Yes. But is it fun? Definitely. It’s a whirlwind of weird tearing through the artifices of cinema and uprooting cliché to become something fresh. Pretentiousness can be sanctimony or parsimony, but here it becomes fun. It takes something recognisable – reality TV, exploitation, an almost science fiction futurist dystopia – and obfuscates it in layers of self-referentiality, clashing ideals, and a sense of knowing fun. The chap sat a few seats from me walked out after about forty minutes, which is a shame, because he missed the talking cars.

demoncleaner -> RE: Holy Motors (1/10/2012 9:34:14 PM)

I really liked it.

Essentially The Wings of Desire only instead of angels we seem to be doing the dramatic muse here. Overall, Carax may be asking questions about why we need drama in our lives, do we in actual fact need it (a need implied by the almost divine service Denis Lavant's consummate performer supplies through appointment). And do we want spectacle in a broad, entertainment sense (action movie, crime movie, Grimm fairy tale, musical and even porno) or in the more verite dramas of Kieslowski for instance (the deathbed scene, the scene with a father picking his daughter up from a party) drama that doesn't have to be cinematic, or affected, but could be a lift from anyone's lives.

The nice thing about Holy Motors is that aside from any high-falutin theory about what it all means we are basically left with a proficient film making portfolio of many different story telling styles. Carax could have openly presented it as an anthology of his (and very much also Lavant's) technical range and it would be a very easy to understand project, it's really only the interlinking framing device that makes these vignettes appear utterly bonkers when thrust together. With oodles of openly filmic references Carax with Holy Motors is arguably more about celebrating than he is trouble-shooting film vogue and there are just as many scenes that truly, joyously dazzle, as there are ones that wilfully perplex.

In the end it's literally up to the dramatic vehicles to ask why we keep going back to movies when we know they're fake. Why we keep peering into the cadaver of how a movie is made when surely our first instinct is to be beguiled by it, it may ask also if there isn't enough drama in our own lives. Should we use cinema to run away from reality or toward it? And it seems to ask, possibly most fundamentally of all, how does a film maker persevere in that confused climate of audience expectation? On the evidence of this film Carax seems to be a man who can give an audience what they want, it's just difficult for him to know what the want might be.


xlostxjoeyx -> (9/10/2012 10:21:05 AM)

Beautifully shot but self indulgent and pretentious. It is as if the director is having a party while the audience is locked out.

dunc2001 -> Self indulgent and hollow (9/10/2012 11:51:15 PM)

This film has been getting fantastic reviews left right and centre. Unfortunately it left me totally cold- it's introverted, there's no real character interaction and no life to it. I love Lynch's work, and this was not even close.

R W -> RE: Holy Motors (11/10/2012 6:12:21 PM)

“Weird” is a word that’s often overused to describe certain films, whether it is travelling through one’s memories in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or even the strange appearance of robotic testicles in Michael Bay’s Transformers films. In the case of French director Leos Carax’s first film since his 1999 drama Pola X, Holy Motors is more in the lines of David Lynch, whose work defines the meaning of “weird”.

The plot, if you could call it that, delves into a day in the life of Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) who travels around Paris in a stretch limousine. During his day, he takes on multiple roles such as violent tramp, assassin and a motion capture performer doing CGI alien whoopee.

A few months ago came the release of David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, which showed Robert Pattinson traveling through New York in a limo, in a story that relied heavily on its themes. Whilst Cosmopolis was critically divided, Holy Motors is perhaps more baffling but definitely more rewarding for cineastes as its bizarre story explores cinema in a puzzling and blackly comic way.

Following a strange beginning featuring Leos Carax as himself walking through a mysterious pathway leading to a packed cinema, it goes even stranger when Denis Lavant does his first appointment in the role of a crumbling elder, and then some. Blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, as we see Denis Lavant extraordinarily delving multiple roles to rival the physical brilliance of Charlie Chaplin, Paris is presented almost like a playground consisting of people in Oscar’s “occupation”.

Amongst the supporting cast including Eva Mendes and Edith Scob who at one point re-enacts her performance from Eyes Without a Face, the most recognisable face is pop star Kylie Minogue. Now in terms of Minogue’s previous screen outings, the most infamous was Street Fighter…yeah! Appearing very late in the film, she becomes centre stage in a touching scene between her and Lavant, whose characters may have a past together and finishes the former singing about who they were before.

As the film goes into bizarre territories, there are certain sequences that might go through people’s heads, such as Oscar goes against clones of himself and the most noticeable being a mo-cap sex scene. However, director Carax presents a sublime love letter to cinema itself featuring a grand central performance by Denis Lavant and a surprisingly good Kylie Minogue.

apnavarun -> RE: Holy Motors (19/10/2012 2:21:01 AM)

truly speaking i couldn't understood the film.............. not my type actully...

moontheloon -> RE: Holy Motors (27/10/2012 11:02:08 PM)

I got the same feeling after seeing this film as I did after watching Tree of life, and indeed after reading Slaughterhouse Five, one of confusion, frustration, and an indefinable feeling that just keeps nagging at me. With Tree of Life I went to see it again and fell in love with it having let my brain process it all the first time, with Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut became pretty much my favourite author, and I hope that I have a similar reaction to Holy Motors. After the first viewing I am in two minds, aspects of the film I absolutely loved (If every film had a music interlude like this one it wouldn't be a bad thing), but other moments just left me baffled, like his final characters family.

Overall I enjoyed watching the film, and it left me with a lot to think about, just right now I am not 100% sure it actually worked for me. I will probably get it when it comes out and give it another go, because there is definitely something to this film.

Coyleone -> Fascinating (21/11/2012 1:58:44 PM)

Going into this I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd read that it was 'pretentious', 'bizarre', and that you either loved it or hated it, well...I loved it. I only knew that the film consisted of a man traveling around a city in a limo, using different disguises to play various roles around the city. I didn't know what the themes were supposed be, or what the messages were supposed tell us because I'd heard it was best to go in without knowing and to make up my own mind.

For the first quarter or so, I really wasn't sure what I thought about the film in general. or about what it was trying to say. But as it went on, and the scenes became more surreal, it started to become clear. One person might think something else completely, but for me the film was about the craziness of the life of an actor, or a film maker in general. The different roles he plays are scenes, and not to sound too pretentious, but life itself is the movie.

The film also appeared to be about the way culture has changed, and how digital and technology are taking over the world, and how different people react to it. For example, the scene where he plays a tramp and he sees Eva Mendez being photographed for a magazine, he steals her and takes her back to his cave, and he creates an image with her that looks like a 17th century painting. An obvious comparison of modern culture and old culture, and also a statement on how digital and media are taking over peoples lives. This was also evident by the scene where he plays a CGI motion capture artist. Also, what part of this is his real life? Does he even have one?

Is he an actor, is life one big movie? Has acting and media taken over his life? Or is it something completely different? The viewer has to decide for themselves, and I love that aspect of the film. The film also looks absolutely stunning.

Lavant is amazing in the lead role. He doesn't care that he's donning all of these different roles in society, he doesn't seem phased by it, because it's his life and it's all he knows. He is an actor in real life. The film is full of bizarre moments, a scene where he walks through a graveyard as a tramp, eating all the flowers from the tombstones, set to the Godzilla theme music is really powerful. He's crazed and out of control, just like his 'life'. There's another stunning scene that really knocked me back in my seat which includes a kind of marching band. I loved the scenes where he would come across what seemed like another version of himself too.

Admittedly there were things that I hadn't the slightest clue what was happening, but that only added to the films mystery. What did it all mean, and what was it trying to say? As I said earlier, it's completely up the viewer. I will say that his last 'Appointment' in the film, was so strange and almost disturbing, that it gave me shivers, to me it felt like it was just another example of how crazy his life is, but I can't help but feel there was something more to it, something almost perverse. I found it to be really powerful stuff, especially mixed with the great use of songs.

Initially I thought that the lack of any real character or bond with anyone else was a bit off-putting, and I could see that being an issue for some people, but to me that that is exactly what the film is about. I will say that it is not for everyone, and I appreciate that, but anyone that is a fan of films, and anyone that enjoys the thrill of making up their own mind, or dissecting what they've just seen to find the meaning behind it all really needs to see this. The best film I saw all of last year was The Tree Of Life because it really got me thinking for days, I couldn't get it out of my mind, and this is exactly the same. Stunning.


Dr Lenera -> RE: Fascinating (30/1/2013 9:43:05 PM)

A man wakes up one morning, locates and opens a secret door in his apartment. Walking through it, he wanders into a packed movie house where a young child and a giant dog wander up and down the aisles. Meanwhile Oscar travels through Paris in a white limousine driven by his friend Celine. His job involves stopping for various ‘appointments’, where he has to become an entirely different character complete with makeup, mannerisms and speech. Throughout the course of the day he becomes a beggar woman, banker, motion capture artist, assassin, disappointed father and many others…..

I really hate where I live sometimes. That short statement might seem like an odd way to open a review of a film I am going to praise considerably. The thing is, if I had lived in a major city, near a cinema which had actually shown the film, I would have got to see Holy Motors on the big screen and then included it in my top twenty films of the year article: in fact, it might have topped it. However, because both of the cinemas local to me show exactly the same movies and hardly anything subtitled or unusual, I tend to miss out on many of the most interesting and critically acclaimed movies of the year. No, the powers-that-be think that the citizens of Basingstoke wouldn’t understand Beasts Of The Southern Wild or Amour [actually on second thoughts maybe they’re right], so they want the latest blockbusters in as many screens as possible, and in both 3D and 2D. Now I’m not knocking blockbusters; I often love them and happily get caught up in the hype as much as the next person, but as someone who likes diversity in his film viewing and certainly spent some of last year bemoaning the lack of originality and mediocre quality of the cinema’s output, it’s intensely frustrating that I couldn’t really get a proper overview of the year because I had missed out on quite a deal.

As I began to watch Holy Motors, I was sure I remembered writer/director Leon Carax’s name from something many years before, and after seeing the unforgettable face of its star Denis Lavant for a few minutes, I realised it was from the 1997 film les amants des Pont Neuf, a striking melding of gritty realism and romantic fantasy which really ‘wowed’ me when it came out [and I got to see it on the big screen too]. Overall he has only made five feature films over the span of his 29-year directorial career, and maybe this is a good thing, because he really does seem to be a filmmaker with a unique vision and incredible imagination which I feel could be diluted if he started tossing off a film a year. Think of Stanley Kubrick; I’m sure one of the reasons his films were so consistently outstanding is because he gave himself space in-between each film to breath and spent a long time conceiving each one.

Holy Motors is like the bastard son of Charlie Kaufman and Alexandro Jodorowsky, with a heavy influence of David Lynch. If you like the kinds of off-the-wall films these people make, than you’ll know already that you will thoroughly enjoy Holy Motors. If you don’t, then I’m not sure that I will be able to do much to convince you to see it, but I will say that it is astoundingly original and if you were bored by the predictability and laziness of much of what came out last year, this may just be the ticket for you. This film is almost the definition of the term ‘not for all tastes’, but you can say that about virtually any movie. I know some people who don’t even like Star Wars. Watching Holy Motors, I didn’t understand all of what was going on, but I got the same thrill I get from watching any film that doesn’t feel hemmed in trying to be ‘normal’ or ‘make sense’, or tries to push the boundaries and give the grey matter a good work over. Like all the great surreal films, it’s not just a random collection of weird incidents; it’s full of clues, allusions, suggestions etc, as to what it might be all about, like a puzzle box, and you can’t wait to return time and time again to try to solve all this. Such films often bypass the normal areas of the brain and reach a part which is more open and receptive.

So what we have, reduced to its most simplistic level, is basically a tale of an actor whose job it is to play various roles, to ‘become’ other people. He travels round Paris in a white limo driven by Edith Scob, one of the stars of Eyes Without A Face, George Franju’s brilliant poetic horror masterpiece from 1960, and looking amazingly good for her age. They talk sometimes, but most of the time Oscar spends in the car is spent changing into someone else. We see in detail the various paraphernalia he has to use, from latex to blusher, and all this made me wonder if the film was, in part, about our seeming need for people [actors and actresses] to become others for our entertainment, and how odd the concept basically is. Considering Oscar’s ‘roles’ go from being a destructive tramp who seems to entertain people to a motion-capture artist, perhaps we are also being asked to think about how entertainment has progressed, or not, over the centuries. In amongst all the madness, there’s the odd comment on things like cameras getting smaller. I have a mixed attitude to this kind of thing myself. Isn’t it clever how you can now do everything on a phone? Is it actually a good thing though? Holy Motors also appears to be nothing less than about the act of seeing films, a subject that has been the basis for many great movies throughout cinema’s history.

Of course if you don’t want to think about all this kind of stuff than you don’t have to, as Oscar changes into person after person, in sequences which continually refuse to go where you think they will, but often seem to contain moments of real humanity. At one point, Oscar seems to be an old man dying, and the scene is really sad and touching, but then we have the rug pulled out from under our feet and we are left with a joke. The pace of this film is fairly leisurely; it’s not quite the sensory overload one might expect, which is why I think it is might actually be easier to assimilate than some might think, even if they’ve never even heard of The Holy Mountain or Inland Empire. There’s a bit of sexual content, most notably a motion-capture sequence that plays like a certain scene from The Lawnmower Man on drugs, and some violence in a brutal segment where Oscar becomes an assassin and has to kill…..himself [but not in the way it sounds]. Most of the film though is done with a refreshing if bonkers sense of humour, including a really odd but actually rather appropriate use of two Akira Ifikube tracks from Godzilla movies. The sight of a mad guy running around a graveyard scoffing flowers while the theme for the King Of The Monsters blares out almost brought tears of joy to this Kaiju fan’s eyes.

Apparently this sequence also refers to an earlier film by the director, but if you haven’t seen it the cineaste in you will be far more likely to pick up on the fact that, for instance, Oscar seems to live in a house that once belonged to a certain Monsieur Hulot, or that Kylie Minogue [yes, Kylie Minogue] looks and walks like Jean Seberg from a bout de soufflé. The whole history of French cinema seems to almost exist in this film, along with bits of others, and it’s all there for you to pick up if you notice, but if you don’t, it doesn’t really matter, and it never took me out of the movie, unlike for instance Quentin Tarantino’s lesser efforts, which come across of Highlights From Cool Cult Movies Which Tarantino Thinks You Should See Before You Die. I smiled at the things I picked up on and that was it. One of the things that I couldn’t stop thinking about was how brilliant Denis Lavant’s performance is. He really does become every single character. It’s a mind-boggling achievement, and the sort of performance that should win Oscars, but of course the film is too strange to even get a look in, isn’t it?

As the film goes past the half way point, we begin to be given tantalising hints about what is happening, but they remain hints. A certain sadness creeps over the film, most notably in the Minogue bit where her and Oscar meet, talk of old times, and she sings a rather sad, melancholic song. Aside from the fact that it’s shocking to hear her sing something that’s good for once [though one of her ghastly pop hits is heard earlier], the lyrics seem to be deliberately muffled so that, even if they seem to explain things regarding her and Oscar, you can only hear bits and pieces. And it soon becomes possible that the nature of Oscar’s life could actually be very sad indeed. The metaphors will be plain to see for anyone with a brain, while the film appears to end on a note which is both mad, perverse, sad, and heavily symbolic of the role of performers in cinema. Though it is followed by, and I’m not really giving much away here of this film which is full of wonderful oddness, talking automobiles. I guess in most other movies, finishing with a bit from a live-action version of Cars would seem really stupid. Not in this one.

There are portions which are a little sluggish compared with the rest of the film [though that's not automatically a bad thing], and I’m not sure if the naturalistic visual style entirely works for the material. Nonetheless, Holy Motors is a breath of fresh air, a throwback to the glory days of the 70’s where more filmmakers were willing to through caution to the winds, experiment and really go the extra mile. It’s a film that totally and utterly restores my faith in cinema, because I now know that, out there, there are still people who are willing to explore the edges of what is truly possible with the artform [and create masterpieces as they do].

Rating: 9.5/10

MOTH -> RE: Fascinating (10/2/2013 7:57:23 PM)

This hasn't entirely convinced me to give up on conventional narrative movies, but I quite liked this and it has stuck in my head for days now. Sure, it's bizarre and surreal and as mad as a box of frogs, but it's never boring and is often quite funny as it pin-balls crazily from one set-piece to another. After a few days reflection, I do think this is quite an inspired piece of work, with some sort of mad genius at work, even though I couldn't really blame anyone for dismissing it as a ridiculous pile of unwatchable bollocks. But to me it did actually make some sort of sense - it's about the different roles that we play in our everyday lives and how we wear a different face for different people. Isn't it? Anyone agree? Anyone? Well, a quick look a other opinions reveal any number of interpretations, from it being a meditation on the nature of cinema (with so many references to spot for the cineaste), to a reflection on life and death, to a satire on religion, to a commentary on society's relationship with media,so who knows what to make of it. Denis Lavant is unbelievably good in all his roles and on top of that, we have a quite wonderful entr'acte, as Lavant and company belt out a cover version of Let My Baby Ride. Nothing like a bit of joyous accordion playing to liven up a movie. It might be brilliant or bollocks, or both, but it really is quite a unique film. (7 Bananas out of tractor)

Nicky C -> What a disappointment. (18/2/2013 12:00:07 PM)

I was really looking forward to this but it utterly failed to deliver. This movie has a playful, whimsical surface but we're quickly shown under the hood and sadly their isn't really anything underneath to engage with except the same very tired and overdone questions about beauty, fame, facade, cinema, genre and reality that were tackled with more energy by other filmmakers as much as 50 years ago. The meta surface exposes a director too in love with his thin, short-film concept to see that it is undercooked. I think this is the sort of film that is lauded as long as it's made in Europe or Asia but critics would maul it if it came out of America or the UK. Carax's framing device removes us so far from the narrative that we are able so see the components underneath. That's not a bad thing but if you're going to do that then you better have something to say that the audience hasn't heard before. Carax is so desparate to act like he knows something we don't that his camera is, at times, mind-numblingly slow. You will have time during each vignette to consider it's questions, realize you've heard it all before and get bored well before the next one comes around. And that part with Mendes is just excruciatingly dull ... almost as dull as watching a man apply make-up and take it off over and over again in the back of a limo. If you don't get it, you may be intrigued into a second viewing. If you do get it, you won't care.

david hayes -> Pretentiousness, why name is Holy motors (27/2/2013 3:14:34 PM)

how i finished is a mircle

film ninja -> I have no idea what it was about... (3/5/2013 12:13:19 AM)

...but it sure was entertaining. Love it or hate it, you will be surprised at every turn. Definitely check it out if you want to be utterly confused!

Page: [1]

Valid CSS!

Forum Software © ASPPlayground.NET Advanced Edition 2.4.5 ANSI