Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Review: Holy Motors

I can't believe I haven't seen…

Holy Motors Poster

Holy Motors (2012)
Cert: 18 / 113 mins / Dir. Leos Carax / Trailer
WoB Rating: 6/7

Okay, this film's properly weird. To the point where it makes last week's A Field In England look like a documentary on accountancy.

More of a travelling art installation than a movie per se, Holy Motors follows Monsieur Oscar over the course of one day as he is chauffeured around Paris by his assistant Céline, performing (perhaps) a series of acting roles in various 'appointments' for an audience that's hinted at at the beginning of the story. There are some films that you don't quite get, but you patiently wait for the final reel to come along and put everything into context. Then there are films like Holy Motors where you know that context won't arrive, so you quite happily just sit back and enjoy the ride as writer/director Leos Carax blurs the lines between surrealism, the avant-garde and batshit craziness. While I'd probably describe the film as 'bewildertainment', I have to say that it didn't bore me for a second, and the central actor Denis Lavant is really is an astonishing performer as Oscar and his other ten interwoven roles.

But what's its meaning? After some careful thought (although not too careful, seeing as it's my brain, obviously), I think the film could be either:
a) a metaphor for the life of an actor/performer in the 21st century, as increasing audience/critical expectation demands that they immerse themselves fully in each role to the point where their own reality seems fractured and inseparable from their on-screen personae, or

b) a metaphor for the role of the entertainment industry in the 21st century, where surveillance cameras and an ever-intrusive and expanding media plays horrific events as hyper-reality programming, or

c) a metaphor for re-incarnation, with the soul wearily remembering each life on its journey and the white limousines standing in as angels, ferrying the soul between the end and start of each life (hence the 'Holy Motors' garage at the film's end), and the interior of the car being a limbo and the only area where actual reality is clear (or clearer, anyway).

Or d) a, b & c.

Although the fact that my linear-thinking mind has come up with those probably means that it's none of them, admittedly.

Also, after more careful thought (see note above), I've edited this review and revised Holy Motors' score from 5/7 to 6/7, as it's left me with more than it initially gave. I'd still be just as hesitant in recommending the film to anyone, but I can't deny that it's been rattling around my head since watching it, inducing a sort of post-Matrix reverie whereby my 9-to-5 office life was preoccupied with thoughts of simulated reality and the nature of consciousness. Pity the poor people in my office. I may not have fully understood Holy Motors, but I appreciated the fuck out of it; and that counts for a lot in my book.

Maybe not a film to watch with your parents in the room, though.
Not for the whole thing, but definitely for some of it.

Have you really never seen this before?
Strangely, it wasn't shown at my local multiplex, and despite hearing plenty of praise I didn't get round to checking it out before tonight.

So are you glad you've finally have?
...I am.

And would you recommend it, now?
Tentatively, yes. If you can handle weird French cinema, from time to time.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Holy Motors features Kylie Minogue, who starred in Moulin Rouge!, as did Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Ewan McGregor.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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