Ah, where do I begin when describing Holy Motors? I genuinely don’t know; the first thing I said when walking out of the cinema was “words fail me”, and they really do. It’s a bizarre, surreal, almost Lynchian film, an exploration of performance and identity.
At the heart of the film is Denis Lavant, playing almost a dozen different roles, and it is only as the puzzle box structure of the narrative unfolds that we see what is that’s going on. The core of all of his roles is Monsieur Oscar, and what is truly fascinating is, after each of his other roles are disposed of, to see where these roles end and the man behind them all begins. The performance is nothing short of masterful, easily the best performance I’ve seen all year, from the way he changes his voice and delivery for all of these roles, to his perfect changes in physicality for all of them, it’s an utter joy to watch him play each of these roles as brilliantly as he does.
The rest of the ensemble are all great in small roles, each of them helping to give each of the major sections in the film, and of course the characters Lavant plays such interesting and distinct tones, from Eva Mendes, who plays Kay M across from Lavant in a scene that goes from physical comedy to a haunting, minimalist lullaby at the drop of a hat, to, and I never thought I’d say this, Kylie Minouge, who plays Jean across from him, and allows us to see a more tender and human side to Monsieur Oscar, as well as providing one of the two bizarre, but nonetheless interesting, musical interludes in the film.
Carax is clearly an able filmmaker, and the way he changes scenes and tones with such ease is fascinating, it helps to keep the audience on their toes; you literally have no idea what will happen next.
I don’t really know what else to say about Holy Motors, its an exceptionally well directed film with a virtuoso performance at its heart. It’s also very weird. Words don’t do it justice at all, you simply have to go and see it, it’s easily one of the best films of the year.