This review originally appears in the pages of Clash Magazine …
A singular artistic vision from the decidedly unconventional French filmmaker Leos Carax, Holy Motors is, to paraphrase the US rappers, a bizarre trip to the far side of cinema.
Carax traces a few hours in the mixed-up world of Monsieur Oscar (a chameleon-like Dennis Lavant), who takes on various roles including beggar, assassin, father and monster. He is transported around Paris to these ‘missions’ by mysterious chauffeur Celine, a character almost as beguiling as Oscar himself. Their interplay and deadpan interaction is one of the film’s highlights as the inside of the car represents a calm contrast to the strangeness of the world outside and introduces each new section.
The film plays out as a series of weird and wonderful vignettes driven along by Lavant’s malleable features, comic timing and ability to completely alter a scene seemingly without effort. Amongst many intriguing chapters – including one featuring gnome-like figure ‘Monsieur Merde’ inspiring panic at a fashion shoot and eating Eva Mendes’ hair – the film’s brief musical interlude has an accordion brandishing Oscar conducting a band around a church in chaotic, dreamlike, punky style. For pure visceral excitement it serves as a neat calling card for the rest of the piece.
Also featuring a respectable performance from Kylie Minogue showing off her French, Holy Motors is a glorious celebration of cinema, storytelling and well, weirdness!
Robert W Monk