Matthew Rodgers’s review published on Letterboxd:
Where to begin? Holy Motors is a frustratingly brilliant waltz through the schizophrenic world of Monsieur Oscar; a shape-shifting narrative chameleon with whom acclaimed director, Denis Lavant, wants us to spend a single night (the director even pops up at the start to get proceedings going and add to the overriding feeling that this is all a comment on cinema), during which he will transcend from life-to-life, street-bum to patriarch, and from which you’ll probably emerged impressed, but mainly baffled (unless you’re a connoisseur of Carax’s work) about what it all meant.
Boarding a stretch-limo as the sun sets on a Parisian night, your companion (Denis Larax) departs his domesticity and embarks on an inexplicable journey that sees him don the façade of an old crone, a milky eyed sewer dweller, an erotic dancer in a motion capture room, spend some time in the company of Eva Mendes’ fashion model, and watch Kylie Minogue perform a sing-song in an empty store. You’d been warned it was nuts.
Despite the David Lynch infused, shattered mirror plot strands, your tolerance of which may wear thin as momentum is lost, the catalyst in this opus is a staggeringly good turn from Lavant. Holy Motors has a structure that might not have worked as well had the central performance not been so captivating. Lavant makes sure, thanks to a wry sense of humour, face etched with gravitas, and willingness to fully commit to every persona thrown his way, that you’re prepared to stay the distance.
That’s not to say the support isn’t impressive; Mendes is all mascara and intoxication, plus she can carry a tune, a department in which Minogue also excels, and thankfully arrives at a point in the film when the viewer might be flagging. And Scobb is wonderful as the Lavant’s straight talking limousine driver come instructor.
An obvious ode to the art of acting, Carax wants us to know the lengths that performers will go to entertain, and that even when the cameras aren’t rolling they are still consumed by their commitment to the art, whether there is an attentive audience, an apathetic audience, or no audience at all. Three scenarios that are bound to confront the polarising, Holy Motors.
It’s a piece of art that requires patience, digestion, and discussion, as most of the best films do. And if that’s not for you then rent Gone in 60 Seconds.