Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Holy Motors (2012)

Holy Motors (2012)
Holy Motors (2012)
Best New Film
Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Sci-Fi
Director: Leos Carax
Starring: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue, Elise Lhomeau, Jeanne Disson
Language: French, English, Chinese
Duration: 115 min.
Rating: 9.1
Summary:
From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy figure who rides the streets of Paris in a limousine, transforming into multiple characters along the way.
Holy Motors is a film written and directed by Leos Carax. His first feature film in 13 years, following 1999's Pola X, it premiered in competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and was presented as the closing film of the 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival.

It happens very rarely where I am completely dazzled and instantly smitten by a brand new film. Maybe once every couple of years, and this is one of them. Leos Carax's long awaited comeback is a daring and downright wacky extravaganza that showcases the wonders of cinema in ways I couldn't hope to adequately relay here. It takes us on a hypnotic ride into the director's weird and wild imagination. An unpredictable journey where we are never quite sure of where, or even how the next scene might possibly play out. Which is entirely refreshing for anyone who has seen so many films that you almost always know what will or may happen next.

Holy Motors (2012)

You might think that means it's going to be some crazy nonsensical self indulgent experiment, and to a certain degree that is true. However, it's also much more. It's shot beautifully on the RED Epic by cinematographers Caroline Champetier (Of Gods and Men) and Yves Cape (White Material, and he's also Bruno Dumont's usual DP); and it looks glorious enough to convince anyone still holding out, that digital can be just as good, if not better than film. It's also cleverly referential, filled with nods to itself, to the director and his previous work, and to much of the history of cinema. It's outrageously funny, sexy, scary, sad, playful, exciting, and even campy. It's all of those things, and then there's the performance of a lifetime from Denis Lavant.

The immensely talented actor and long time collaborator who first worked with Carax in 1984's Boy Meets Girl, lights up the screen in a role written specifically for him. He plays a mysterious character named M. Oscar, perhaps in reference to the director's name which could be read in French as (Le Oscar à X), or perhaps cheekily referring to that coveted trophy Lavant fully deserves but probably won't win.

Holy Motors (2012)

Strangely similar in some ways to Cosmopolis, we follow him over the course of a single day, where he's shuttled around Paris in a white stretch limousine by his trusty driver Céline (played by the ever elegant Edith Scob), to nearly a dozen strange and unexplained 'appointments' he must keep. At each destination he emerges from his limo/dressing room in full costume, completely and utterly unrecognizable from before.

It's an intensely physical performance, aided by great makeup and effects of course, but made real through Lavant's extraordinary body language and vocal abilities. Among the many distinct guises, he appears as an old beggar, a bank exec, a killer and also the victim, the leader of a raucous marching accordion band, and even a reprisal of the demonic character Merde, which he played in Carax's segment of the 2008 anthology film Tokyo!

Holy Motors (2012)

In support are Eva Mendes, as a supermodel in the most bizarre sequence of the film that's best left as a surprise. A singing Kylie Minogue, playing a fellow limo passenger named Jean, who is dressed and coiffed, and ends up very much like an iconic actress of the same name. Relative newcomer, Elise Lhomeau appears in the picture's most tender moment as a niece at her dying uncle's bedside, and young Jeanne Disson shows up as a distressed young daughter picked up from a party by her surly father. Veteran Michel Piccoli makes a rather brief but memorable appearance as the boss of the whole operation. Carax himself, brilliantly opens up the film, waking up alone in a hotel room and discovering a secret passageway which leads into a darkened cinema.

There's always a danger with a film like this of being too weird and surreal for some viewers. It certainly doesn't adhere to any logical plot and is left open to pretty much any interpretation. Might be that it's a lament to the dying art of cinema as we know it, or an elaborate celebration of performance itself, or as the director claims, a statement on modern society's growing dependence on the internet and digital machines. Whatever the case, it is an insanely mad rush, a delightful and unforgettable headfirst plunge into the unknown, boldly crafted by a lover of cinema. An instant favorite, the best film of the year, and one I can't wait to see again and again.
Bonjour Tristesse
Holy Motors (2012)

Holy Motors (2012)

Holy Motors (2012)

Holy Motors (2012)

Holy Motors (2012)

35 comments:

FrontRoomCinema said...

Really Really want to see this soon1!!

The Angry Lurker said...

Saw this advertised at the cinema last night, they were interviewing Kylie as well, might be worth a punt!

Diana said...

It really is one of the weirdest, yet intriguing films I have ever seen. I loved it! the Eva Mendez part was crazy, but I was left surprised by the end. Great review!

Mettel Ray said...

French and sci-fim - this might be something for me for sure! Yet, I'm a bit scared of the guy with the red hair....

evl keith said...

Great review. This sounds really good. I'll definitely give this a watch, good new films are few and far between.

the_cynical_gamer said...

Easily the bravest, most important film of the year - and also a film worthy of debate given its inherent divisiveness. Also home to several of the best individual scenes of the last decade - that accordion sequence is particularly perfect.

stevens1 said...

Mental film. Saw this a couple weeks back and was blown away. Btw, I'm not sure if you guys in Canada/US can use it but UK paper The Guardian have exclusive rights to stream this on VOD

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/series/holy-motors-video-on-demand

10 ole english pounds ($15?) to see four times in 30 days. I need to see this again before I make up my mind, currently a 4/5 but that may well improve...

pturner1010 said...

I can't wait to see this. Might be too weird for me but might also be right up my street and I'm really looking forward to finding out which it's going to be. I guess it's good to know a bit about what to expect with one like this. But without ruining too much of the surprise it has in store!

TheVern said...

I never even heard of this before, but your review makes me want to go seek this out. Hopefully it will come to my town

The Warning Sign said...

Wow. This sounds like an absolute trip. Unfortunately, it looks like I missed its only two screenings at CIFF, so I'll have to wait to see it.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Well, I think it's currently showing in the UK...

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Definitely. I'd love to hear your take on it.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thank you! That segment is so crazy. I wonder what she was thinking when she read the script.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

It's really more fantasy than sci-fi, but there is a bit of technology involved. Once you see the film, I guarantee you will never forget 'the guy with the red hair'.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks evl keith. I see a lot of good and very good films all the time, but great ones that get me excited like this are truly rare occurrences.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah I'd say it's worth buying a ticket just to see that musical interlude. Can't wait for the disc to come out so I can slowly dissect all the pieces.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

That's not working for me here in Canada. The French Blu-Ray comes out Nov 6 though, so I might preorder that.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I look forward to your review. Even though it's not a film that can be spoiled story wise, I think it's best to leave most of the details unsaid. Much of the joy in watching this comes from the element of surprise. I envy those first Cannes audiences who went into this completely blind.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I hope so too. It's one that shouldn't be missed.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Darn. Hopefully you get another chance soon. Thanks for stopping by!

Margaret said...

Great review! Your rating definetly encourages me to see it

stevens1 said...

Btw have you seen Toyko! from 2008 with Gondry, Carax and Joon-ho Bong stitch together three short stories about the city? That is where Merde was born - one of my favourite movie creations - worth seeing if you haven't already.

Lisa Thatcher said...

Ah... the beauty of the act! Oh, that gives me chills!Wonderful wonderful review BT of a film that is incredibly difficult to review. I LOVED this film as well. Its a film that fell instantly into my "favourites" category - I can't rate this highly enough. I am the same, I'll be reviewing it again after many more watches. I missed the "oscar" reference - fantastic insight.
Interestingly this film, and Amour both opened with a shot of the camera facing the audience. For me, this worked much better. That image instantly drew me into the film, while Haneke's was more alienating, but less powerful. This film achieves what I think (personally) is missing in Herzog's films and even Lynches films. There is a step into the bizarre but it is never at risk of releasing the intellectual underpinnings that give weight to the bizarre The depth behind nuance is an unfathomable well here. It is such an impressive film.
I agree with you and TCG below - the accordion sequence is worth seeing the film alone... and Edith Scoob with that phone call and then the Franju mask - my god I was thrilled. And Kylie Minogue! I tell you, her career is blessed! HOW did she find herself perfectly placed in the film of the decade?
I also picked up on the Cosmopolis reference. I think there is a strong post-modernist-deLillo influence here that needs close observation.
Oh - I have to stop talking. WHAT a film!!!

d_4 said...

And now I ALMOST understand. I can't wait to see this one, I just know I'll love it. I'm way too excited.

David Zou said...

WOW! I've only heard nothing but great things about this film,someone even calls it the film of 21st century. Probably one of my most anticipated film.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks Margaret. I'm pretty sure you will dig this one.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yes I have, and for some reason I wasn't as impressed with that segment, or either of the other two. Still worth a look for curiosity though.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I agree the audience shot in this one worked better. With Haneke, you automatically get the sense that he has something up his sleeve, that he's purposely trying to make a point, and that takes you out of the cinematic moment. The shot in this film is of course one of many references that Carax uses. I really love his reply: "If you decide to live in that little island that is cinema. It's a
beautiful island and it has a big cemetery. Sometimes you go to that
cemetery." But the shot is totally captivating, and as you say, the layers behind it and the rest of the film feel like they contain so much more than just an homage, or simply being weird or provocative for the heck of it.

I feel there is so much to dissect and discuss in this film, so many fantastic moments. I might actually try and do a commentary post once I get my hands on the disc.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Nice. Hopefully it comes your way soon.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Film of the 21st century. I'm not sure I'm ready to call it that, but it wouldn't be too far off the mark.

stevens1 said...

Actually I was wrong - it was hosted by Curzon (a chain of indie cinemas in the UK), see if this works

http://www.curzoncinemas.com/film_on_demand/


Even if not, they have a very impressive growing library of films online. A little pricey but unique on line from what I can see.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

They say only in the UK or Ireland. I suppose I could get around that with a VPN, but wow, 10 quid for a 1Mbit internet stream? That's a bit silly.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Fantastic review! I watched Holy Motors this weekend and reading your review I feel as if I need to see it again. I just couldn't connect with this film. I certainly recognize its ode to cinema and its beautifully shot. I was also amazed at Lavant. But for each moment that swept me away there was another that pushed me away. It has moments of brilliance and others that were just lost on me. Maybe another viewing is needed. I dunno.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I can understand that. This is one of those films that some of us love and some of us don't connect with at all. So I don't know if seeing it again would change your mind. Maybe try some earlier Carax first, something like Bad Blood or Lover's on the Bridge.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I'm completely new to Carax. I'll certainly look up some of his older stuff. Sounds like could give me a greater appreciation for what he's doing in HM.

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