Review: Holy Motors


Title: Holy Motors

Director: Leos Carax


Starring: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes

Release Date: 28th September

Holy Motors is a bewildering film, almost to a distressing extent. Though it may seem that some of the bizarre peculiarities are an attempted mission to be strange in as many different ways as possible, this doesn’t detract from (in fact, often adds to) the enormous fun and melodrama onscreen. It’s telling that Holy Motors opens with a cinema audience. A love for cinema pervades it, and much charm is found in its pastiche of any and all genres.

Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) is an actor of sorts who needs to attend nine ‘appointments’ escorted by limousine with his chauffeur Céline (Édith Scob). These appointments structure the film as nine separate vignettes with limo rides serving as the film’s glue. Each appointment finds Oscar playing different roles for each new scenario, dipping in and out of various lives as it were. Think of it as an episode of Punk’d but with less celebrity tantrums and more murder and cannibalism.

These vignettes range from the delightful, to the creepy yet gorgeous as Oscar becomes a more ghoulish riddler and kidnaps a strangely unperturbed Eva Mendes. Despite the serialised format there is an overarching plotline, and half the fun is just trying to make sense of it all. Expect there to be some great conversations on what each little visual quirk or surreal moment means. The closing scenes are likely to be divisive among the audience. Strange art house pretentiousness or total comic farce? It’s something to be seen to be believed, that’s for sure.

Whether Oscar’s character is unhinged or subdued, Lavant rises magnificently to the occasion adapting to whatever is required of him. If nothing else, this film showcases Lavant as a chameleonic performer like few others. The other performances aren’t quite as impressive, but that says more about Lavant then any other actor. Scob does however do well as the enigmatic Céline and Kylie Minogue, all people is, actually not terrible, even if you can hear an Australian accent slip in once or twice.

Holy Motors is an uncompromising film, whether in sexual explicitness, in its unabashedly cinematic touches, or the most surreal plot outside of a David Lynch film. It treats you like a lover of movies and, if you fit that bill, Holy Motors won’t disappoint.

In a Nutshell: Incredibly bizarre, but there’s nothing quite like it.

by Conor Ryan