Directed by Leos Carax
First off, this will not be a traditional review. This is not a traditional movie and writing a typical five paragraph-type review about it would be almost a waste of time and would write it off as being comparable to usual movies. This is something that is almost not even a movie, more like a series of images and mini-sketches that are put together with very little (or just mostly incomprehensible) plot. It is an experience and one that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for the past two days. It is just floating around in there, urging me to take another ride with it.
I suppose that at its base, the movie is about a man named Oscar (the incredible, Oscar-deserving Denis Lavant), who rides around in a limo going to several “meetings”. This is supposedly his job, and these meetings are really him becoming a different person and living as that person for a period of time. At least I think that is what it is about. It would be almost impossible to spoil the movie because the movie is the experience, and talking about any part of the plot would be very general because the plot is obviously not the driving force of the movie. It is almost an anthology-type film, one that is separated into episodes, each one connected, but not having to do with, the previous one. Usually these movies come off as very on-the-surface, like Paris, je Taime, Stories of Lost Souls, or Coffee and Cigarettes. Some episodes work, some do not. This one is different. There were episodes where I thought, “Wow, this is amazing!” or “What the hell am I watching?” or “That is so clever!” Many times, all three of those at the same time. The movie is simultaneously brilliant, exhausting, spellbinding, repulsive, beautiful, tragic, and hilarious.
You will know whether you will like the movie in the first five minutes (or probably from the trailer). The opening scene has a man (only in this scene), who wakes up in his bedroom and opens a secret pass way in his wall with his finger being the key. He wanders into a movie theater where there is a dog and a young child (never explained) walking up and down the aisle. Then the screen cuts to Oscar, and he is in the rest of the movie. The WTF thoughts were rampant in my head, but it had my attention after that.
There is literally a scene where Oscar (dressed as a Leprecaun/caveman, photo below) kidnaps a model (Eva Mendes) and takes her down into his sewer and eats her hair as well as the contents of her purse before falling asleep on her lap. I was just watching this, not knowing what to think or even if I should think. But I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It was hypnotic in a way that I have not really experienced before. So much of the movie feels like this. Whether he is a dying old man, a hitman (the best segment, if I had to choose one), or a father picking his daughter up from a party, the movie delivers a rhythmic and subtle atmosphere that that will have the audience glued to whatever screen they have the pleasure of viewing it on.
The movie is just a mind trip that completely got me. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. Watching it, I didn’t exactly feel like I was watching a masterpiece, but it absolutely burns in the memory. It has been stuck in my mind for an extended period of time now, reminding me of some of those haunting images or how cool individual segments were or how strange the ending was. What was the ending anyway? What is the movie trying to say? I have a couple theories, but it is one of those ambiguous endings where nothing is really explained and any theory would seem perfectly legitimate. If I had to compare this movie to anything, it would probably be like Cosmopolis meets Mulholland Dr. meets The Game meets After Hours. But nothing like any of those. You will know why I chose those after you watch it, if you ever do. I do not really expect this write-up to encourage anyone to see it or avoid it. I just needed to write something down in hopes that I can move on so I can actually enjoy the next movie I watch without this movie reminding me of what movies are truly capable of doing. It is almost like I am Cameron Crowe after watching Open Your Eyes, which forced him to remake the movie to get it out of his head.
Am I really this easy? A movie that may just exist to mess with my mind ends up being the most unforgettable movie-going experience of the year? Really, I am asking, because I don’t know. Or is this just saying something about where I am as a movie-goer right now? My number one of 2011 was Margaret, a movie of huge ambitions and huge flaws, but it was so crazy and original that I could not place a near-perfect movie like Drive above it. Now in 2012, I have a few really solid, fantastically written movies in my top five, but a movie with the shameless ambiguity and insanity of Holy Motors may actually claim my top spot? Maybe I am just getting to that point where I need something stimulating and something that I haven’t seen before to really blow me away. I was waiting for more than two months into 2013 to finally find a single one of those for 2012, and I thought it may have been This Is Not a Film, but no. It is Holy Motors.
This movie may not be your thing. I don’t even think it is my thing. I am not even sure it is anyone’s thing. But it is a hallucinatory trip that took me places I have never gone watching a movie. I say it was worth it. Will you?
Rating: 4 stars
Ok, who else has seen this? Anyone? I know it was atop a bunch of critic lists, so I am sure it is not too obscure. Thoughts? Comments? Theories? Discuss!!!