Holy Motors

Holy Motors ★★★★★

This was the third Leos Carax film I've seen. The other two, The Lovers on the Bridge and Boy Meets Girl, often featured momentary glimpses of genius, glimpses that ultimately led to me feeling a bit disappointed they weren't sustained even though they were good overall. That's not the case with Holy Motors, which pretty much consist of 11 sequences of that genius loosely held together and amounts as a whole to a beautiful strange elegy to the filmmaking ways of old. In particular the film mourns the art of performance, which might seem strange since there are still terrific performances being achieved all the time. Yet with the increasing reliance of CGI to aid performers and the popularity of films that employ rapid cutting, actually seeing someone perform with great physicality is becoming rarer each day. So everyone should really bow down at the altar of Denis Lavant who anchors the film with one of the greatest, most fluid performances ever in cinema. We see him applying his own makeup and slipping effortlessly into each different role he's assigned, creating fully developed characters in seconds, each with their own distinct body language, and emotions. Lavant is an actor who seems born in the wrong time; he could've been one of the greatest silent film stars ever.

The film longs for the days of film instead of digital. Carax in a particularly inspired bit, even mocks the whole idea of motion capture, opting to show how beautiful and mesmerizing the actual physical performances are in juxtaposition to the crudely rendered CGI images they produce. The film opens with a shot of a practically comatose theater audience watching an old film; when anything is possible with some clicks of a mouse seeing films crafted the old fashioned way are perceived by many in Carax's mind to be dull and boring.

This was the best film of 2012 and in my mind, by a long mile. No film could make you laugh as hard, and the next minute astound you with it's sheer lunacy and vision, and then break your heart and make you cry like this film. This is cinema.