Holy Motors

Holy Motors ★★★½

This creation by writer/director Leos Carax certainly makes you think – specifically just who Mr. Oscar is or represents.

The film opens with a man rising from his apartment to open the door atop an old style movie theater where, from the balcony, he views the theater goers below, who seem almost in a stupor – are they real, are they viewers of life? A life, any life – are they in purgatory, awaiting another chance to experience life? No easy answers to be had here, especially when the film then shifts gears to show a “businessman” (we assume) leaving his well appointed home, replete with children wishing him a good day. He enters a stretch limo (which has implications to the title – and it is even said at the coda that such vehicles are a sign of a time soon to be passed by and the cars themselves, leviathans of an age, will disappear like dinosaurs).

We soon discover that the “businessman” Mr. Oscar, is some form of actor – a genius of makeup and disguise – which of course leads to yet another pondering; what is Carax saying here? Are we all just actors? Then, the “actor/businessman” receives a series of “assignments” for the day, each a near archetype and seemingly unconnected to one another, as if a series of dreams, or visions of the lives of others that the actor must adopt. In very surreal fashion he moves from one assignment to the next and one starts to wonder if the actor himself has a soul or is just moving through this day of vignettes, a player without purpose.

There are certainly some very bizarre touches and scenes of stunning depth and beauty, but I sometimes got the feeling that Carax was throwing things at a wall to see what stuck – just as a bunch of paint thrown at a canvas can be interpreted any way the viewer sees fit. What is the message here – and does there have to be one? Who knows as the film does not give you any breadcrumbs to speak of to guide you. Interesting, odd, genius perhaps... again, in the eye of the beholder.

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