28 November 2012
HOLY MOTORS- Review
All of this is my high-faluting, but honest way of saying that Holy Motors is pretty damn good. In a film with multiple interpretations, we follow Monsieur Oscar from his home, into a white stretch limousine, as he goes about his day of appointments. Using the wardrobe and make-up in the back of the car, he transforms himself into an elderly woman and, for his first appointment, begs for money on a crowded bridge. He changes his appearance and persona for each and every one of his subsequent appointments too, and over the course of the day, we're shown something of the effect that Oscar's unusual job has upon the world, and upon himself.
Here's a film with such depth of meaning, it almost feels as if that big fuck-off klaxon from QI will go off if I say it's a film about cinema. The plainest interpretation is that Oscar is an actor, and that his transformations inside the car are that of a method actor, getting into character as he's ferried between film sets. These characters range from the elderly beggar woman, to a dedicated family man, via such bizarre detours as a goblin called Mr. Shit, a character that director Leos Carax dreamt up for a previous short film. But then as the characters remark at one point, we never see any of the film crew in each location.
What you'll have gathered is that this is a tough film to describe in any kind of way that makes it sound commercially appealing. It's a deeply unusual film, but one which is surprisingly accessible and enjoyable in the watching. At its centre, you have several superb performances by Denis Lavant, as Oscar and his characters. He's reminiscent of actors from the silent era, equally as poignant in some roles, as he is repulsive when hobbling around as Mr. Shit. He really lends to the multiple meanings that can be drawn out of this thing, and his is nothing short of the best lead performance I've seen in a movie this year- perhaps in several years.
It's his role that makes me think that it really is all about acting. In the course of his consecutive performances, an idea emerges in which an actor might still carry the past experiences and traumas of characters they've played, as if reincarnated. This is most memorably brought to bear in a scene that features Kylie Minogue, from which we can only gather that her character and Oscar have worked together in the past, but is their chance meeting an appointment in itself? Considering that Oscar has nine appointments, and we see him make more stops than this, it's difficult to be sure of anything outside of his mobile dressing room being real, but tantalising when we see him in a comparatively mundane assignment, arguing with a young girl, apparently his daughter, as he drives her home. Is this real? And more importantly, what's real anymore?
Holy Motors is now available from Curzon On Demand, and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 28th January 2013.
If you've seen Holy Motors, why not share your comments below? Film of the year? We'll see...
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.