Holy Motors (18)

Film

Denis Lavant in Holy Motors

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Tue Sep 25 2012

‘Weird! Weird! It’s so weird!’ That’s not a quote from a punter leaving a screening of French eccentric Leos Carax’s first feature film in 13 years (he’s still best known for 1991’s ‘Les Amants du Pont-Neuf’), though it could be. No, they’re the elated words of an on-screen photographer after encountering perhaps the most alarming of the guises adopted by the film’s shape-shifting anti-hero, Oscar (an astonishing Denis Lavant): this version of Oscar is a Rumpelstiltskin-type grotesque who bites off two of the photographer’s fingers before dragging supermodel Kay-M (good sport Eva Mendes) underground to dine on her hair in the nude.

This is one of many such vignettes in Carax’s hypnotically inscrutable story, a cinematic revolving door constantly entered and exited by Oscar, who may or may not be the subject of an invisibly steered reality show. Or make that a sur-reality show: Oscar inserts himself into a series of role-playing scenarios of escalating outlandishness, his instructions fed to him by a stoic limousine driver (Edith Scob).

A day’s work finds Oscar enacting CGI frottage with an actress in a motion-capture bodysuit; begging on the street dressed as a bent-backed crone; and pursuing an ex-lover (Kylie Minogue, surprisingly affecting) around the ruins of a derelict department store.

Weird, yes. But even at its most absurd (chimps are involved), there’s something tender and truthful about Carax’s hall-of-mirrors irrationality, the sense of an artist so weary of human realities that he has no choice but to twist them into the more beautiful shapes afforded by cinema. By the time Scob references the character she played 62 years ago in the seminal French horror ‘Eyes Without a Face’, you might feel a shiver – it’s hard to say what forces are propelling this ecstatic, idiotic, fizzy, frightening provocation, but we’re moved by them too.

0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Sep 28, 2012

Duration:

116 mins

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:8
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|25
1 person listening
Nicholas Cameron

Holy Motors isn't doing anything that other films don't do, or that French meta films didn't do back in the 1960s with the Nouvelle Vague. Nor is Carax's film any more 'personal' or 'autobiographical' than others (all great directors find a way to personalize their work, even if they don't write the scripts). The only difference is that his mechanics and symbolism are conspicuously overt rather than covert. The semiotics are unshielded and liberally plastered across the screen. But Carax's machine isn't more valuable just because we can see the engine that's under the hood. If anything, he has given himself a greater challenge because the 'meta' framing device removes the audience from the text, forcing them to find something more interesting to do with their minds. So, they look for meaning ... and the thing about looking for meaning is that people will find it whether it's there or not. We have an innate need to rationalize and that, if anything at all, is what Carax is successfully highlighting. It's not a bad move, it's just been done before. This is also the kind of piece that thinks all the artist needs to do is ask questions and not to provide answers. However, if the artist does not have a coherent argument or point of view (whether hidden or not) for us to agree with, disagree with or in any way discuss then we are back to rationalization and 'what does it mean?' which is no use to man or beast. So, without any clear meaning (if there was meaning would we wonder what it was?) Holy Motors becomes a beautiful but empty audio-visual experience. Not so much style over substance, but style as substance. In this way Carax is closer to Michael Bay than Truffaut, Goddard or Renoir. Carax, with any luck, would be livid to know something wrote that and genuinely meant it, but then I am livid to think that this cream puff of a film (see Leos? Anyone can be referential) is being lauded as something it's clearly not. If it is a visual poem, then it is an overly long, free-form poem that is sprawling, undisciplined and possibly written by Spike Milligan. I would be more forgiving if it were a short film (which might possibly turn it into a haiku?) but it ain't.

mo

Weirdest film I've seen since Eraserhead. I think I enjoyed it but I know I didn't understand any of it.

David

Phenomenal. Fascinating. Joyous. Horrifying. Incredible. Fun. Beautiful.

David

Phenomenal. Fascinating. Joyous. Horrifying. Incredible. Fun. Beautiful.

Kent

Baffling and brilliant. It's still playing with my head days after, and how many films do that? Just enjoy the ride.

Kent

Baffling and brilliant. It's still playing with my head days after, and how many films do that? Just enjoy the ride.

Marios

This film strangely manages to move between the outrageous and the touching. The Eva Mendes episode particularly. Unapologetically artistic and powerfully emotional. To me, apart from Carax's nostalgia for cinematic expression, it was about how fragmented life is, how you live and relive, how you move between selves and relationships in life. Wonderful stuff.

Marios

This film strangely manages to move between the outrageous and the touching. The Eva Mendes episode particularly. Unapologetically artistic and powerfully emotional. To me, apart from Carax's nostalgia for cinematic expression, it was about how fragmented life is, how you live and relive, how you move between selves and relationships in life. Wonderful stuff.

polecat

I absolutely loved this film. Lavant is like a hitman who slowly realises that what he is doing is wrong, but doesn't know how else to act. A solitary man who is never alone. The episodic approach was just right: keeping the pace fast and tone varied. Wonderful

polecat

I absolutely loved this film. Lavant is like a hitman who slowly realises that what he is doing is wrong, but doesn't know how else to act. A solitary man who is never alone. The episodic approach was just right: keeping the pace fast and tone varied. Wonderful

Patrick

Clearly not to everyone's taste, but I thought it was superb. Sure, there are longeurs and it is occasionally annoying, but it is definitely a singular vision and a film of massive ambition. Denis Lavant was robbed when he didn't get a Best Actor nod at Cannes. Go in with an open mind, take a punt, and you may be surprised. Highly recommended.

Patrick

Clearly not to everyone's taste, but I thought it was superb. Sure, there are longeurs and it is occasionally annoying, but it is definitely a singular vision and a film of massive ambition. Denis Lavant was robbed when he didn't get a Best Actor nod at Cannes. Go in with an open mind, take a punt, and you may be surprised. Highly recommended.

David

A brilliant review by Atlas - a terrible pretentious film which is a waste of time. Wish I could give no stars.

oh la la

I'm writing this so I can give it a one star and lower the average of the overall score. It's just a matter of warning unsuspecting (educated) viewers that they may fail to be engaged with the (often frustrating) self-indulgent postmodernism of it all. I did enjoy a couple scenes (largely the gory ones) and his chimpanzee wife was rather alluring. But I also fell asleep a couple of times. Most "episodes" go on for too long in my opinion.

Alex

A stunning film, Leos Carax's best to date, and a welcome – and long overdue – return. Anyone who loves French auteur cinema is in for a treat. This enigmatic film explores fragmented identity and role-playing in a way that is frequently surprising and always intelligent and entertaining. Denis Lavant gives a shape-shifting performance the likes of which we have not seen in cinema since the days of Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. Let's hope we won't have to wait another 13 years for Carax's next feature-length film!

Alex

A stunning film, Leos Carax's best to date, and a welcome – and long overdue – return. Anyone who loves French auteur cinema is in for a treat. This enigmatic film explores fragmented identity and role-playing in a way that is frequently surprising and always intelligent and entertaining. Denis Lavant gives a shape-shifting performance the likes of which we have not seen in cinema since the days of Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. Let's hope we won't have to wait another 13 years for Carax's next feature-length film!

Alex Forte

He doesn't bite off the photographer He doesn't bite off the photographer's fingers but his assistants'. Were you actually watching the film?

Atlas

I watched with a small audience that needed a child to cry out that the Emperor was completely naked; but it didn't happen and we continued to watch, ashamed and in hope that we are members of all of the people and not some of the people. Pompous garbage for cinema-sheep; a Fast Show satire at all levels.