Holy Motors

Holy Motors ★★★★½

Our faithful director, Leos Carax, wakes up having dreamt of cinema to reflexively light a cigarette. He wanders somnambulantly across his airport hotel room, dressed in his pyjamas and sunglasses. He stops at the forested wallpaper across from his bed, and searching through the trees he finds a secret door. It leads him back into darkness, out into light, and deep into the theatre of his dreams, into Holy Motors

It’s always fraught to try to interpret dreams but I’d say Holy Motors is about performance and stories and where they come together as cinema. It’s about cinema’s struggle to survive in our world: where cameras have become ubiquitous; where every story has already been told; and where we wait, trapped, in the act of our own artificial lives. Our cinema is sick. As an art form it’s been corrupted by the corporate patents of banality. As a mirror, it’s cracked. We’ve entered post-cinema, into modern life, where fantasy abounds and reality is post-truth; and where life has become little more than a series of sketches. We are all performers now, living in the image of cinema’s memory; in the broken reflections of its past roles. And we have no control over the scripts we act. These are scripts that reveal the tawdry illusion of cinema; scripts that wallpaper over the desperation of life. A life now of little consequence: just the fading facsimile of our dreams. We’ve passed through the mirror, out the other side, into the gutted buildings and lives of wearied people acting out their days. This is cinema’s despair and its last breath. The soundtrack is Shostakovich’s last string quartet: the very music of death. We drink ourselves to oblivion and throw ourselves off buildings. We can’t pretend anymore. But we must remain professional. We must play the part to the bitter end. To be a husband. To be a father. To live amongst the gravestone streets that line our suburbs. To come home late after an exhausting day’s work. To lie awake for hours and try to remember when cinema was still fresh and everything was still possible. And then to finally fall asleep and to dream. That’s all that remains now. To dream of cinema. Of what it was and what it could still be. If only it still could. 

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