“I think I caught a cold killing the banker.” – Oscar
What a weird film.
And I don’t say that about just anything.
So, like any self-respecting human being, I decided to watch Holy Motors on Christmas Eve. A movie that had first caught my eye when its hype was blowing up Twitter during the Cannes Film Festival, Holy Motors is famed French director Leos Carax’s (an anagram for Alex and Oscar, his first and middle name and the name of two of the film’s characters) first feature film since 1999. It stars frequent collaborator Denis Lavant (the only other place I’d seen him is in the fantastic music video below), as well as a bit of Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue.
Oscar is an actor in a surrealistic world, driven by limo from one “appointment” to another where he stars in an array of bizarre roles. These include donning a body suit to perform martial arts and shoot an assault rifle, which of course leads to body suit sex (which of course animates itself in the form of dragon sex) and eating flowers in the famed Pere Lachaise cemetery, which of course leads to eating Eva Mendes’s hair. Speaking of Pere Lachaise, Holy Motors follows the tradition of French films showing off the beauty of Paris, as we get some excellent shots of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower at night, as well as the rest of the city. It’s a beautifully shot film.
But it feels vacant. And it’s really hard to say why, especially given Lavant’s triumphant performance. This is, without question, an arthouse film, and I am not averse to those. But some, like Eraserhead, really get me. They’re a lot of fun to watch with or without a plot. This one seems to be making a commentary on limousines and life being a stage, but it feels forced and in the end, it falls flat.
I don’t know why weird has gotten a negative connotation. But it’s negative here. Holy Motors takes you on a wild ride through an alternate reality, but when you get dropped off at the end of the night, it just feels…empty.