Holy Motors

Holy Motors ★★★

I won't lie. For a good part of this film's runtime, I felt like this on the inside. Over the years, I've come to realize that it's ok to not understand a film in its entirety. Besides, many of the reviews and essays that we read before or after viewing a film are often composed after a fair amount of research. I told myself that after viewing Holy Motors, that I'd do the same. But I didn't realize that I'd run into a roadblock in the form of the director himself. Leos Carax seems reluctant to speak on the meaning behind his work. This is even after he admits that the film "would be too strange for people," in a 2012 interview. In most situations, a normal director might throw us a bone, which would allow us to begin to connect the dots. But not Carax, ever the

The story is pretty simple to follow. A man referred to as "Mr. Oscar" (Denis Lavant) in the film spends the day riding around the streets of Paris. He has a series of "appointments" scheduled throughout the day which involve him dressing up and acting out a variety of personalities. For what reason, we don't really know.

The characters range from futuristic to macabre and are involved in situations that grapple with life, death, and everything in between. There are moments where you think that you have a grasp on things. But shortly thereafter, one appointment ends and another begins. And then you're back to square one.

The film reminded me of Yorgos Lanthimos' Alps. Both films deal with a strange group of people who act out a variety of scenarios for the benefit of others. But whereas the group in Lanthimos' film provide their proxy services to those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, the motives of Mr. Oscar aren't as easily decipherable. You will twist yourself in knots trying to put the pieces together, so focus on the performances. Denis Lavant is a talent that I didn't know that I needed more of. The man moves from one appointment to the next with precision. He switches from a homeless beggar to a decrepit flower eating ogre, and back to a contract killer so easily that you may forget you're watching the same actor take on multiple roles. The film seems like more of a celebration of the art of acting and performance than anything else. If you enjoy films with great performances, this film will meet your need and then some.

For those of you looking for a bit more, you'll find it here as well. The film opens with a very strange image: a theater filled with moviegoers who are all asleep at the same time. They're oblivious to the action on screen in front of them. Given the films title, the phrase "asleep at the wheel" popped into my mind. Keep your eyes glued to the TV. Don't skip out on a single frame because it'll only lead to more confusion. That's the only way you'll come close to making sense of this fantastical ride.

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