Holy Motors

23 Jul

holymotors Defying genre, convention and sometimes belief, French experiment Holy Motors takes us on a wild and cheeky romp through film history.

Leos Carax’s first feature film since 1999’s Pola X, Holy Motors follows the mysterious Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), a chameleon character who flits from scene to scene in a series of roles, from a well-heeled banker to a filthy itinerant, a concerned father and a trained assassin. Travelling between “appointments” in a black limousine – driven by Edith Scob, star of 1960 French horror Eyes Without a Face – Oscar uses the limo as his change room to switch costumes and slap on elaborate cosmetics and wigs.

Oscar’s exploits take him from the bizarre to the comical – the scene in which he plays lunatic tramp Monsieur Merde, chomping on flowers and kidnapping a supermodel (Eva Mendes), is both hilarious and grotesque.

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Pop princess Kylie Minogue makes a cameo as Oscar’s former lover, in a scene where she breaks into song with full orchestral backing. Slyly self-referential, her appearance is flagged in a previous scene when we hear her pop hit Can’t Get You Out of My Head.

Casting aside traditional narrative and exposition, Carax aligns the cinematic experience with the surreal landscape of dreams, exploring the death and rebirth of cinema while referencing avant-garde filmmakers such as Jean Cocteau, French New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard and surrealist David Lynch, as well as his own films.

Startlingly original, yet steeped in film history, Holy Motors is a unique and bewildering experience that, like Minogue’s pop tunes, will be hard to get out of your head.

MA, 2012, Icon, 116 minutes

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