Recently, I wrote a short, but glowing review of the Leos Carax film, Holy Motors, the highlight of which is the staggeringly good performance from Denis Lavant.
I know it isn’t common for film blogs, especially ones as small and under-read as mine, to write For Your Consideration pieces, and it’s also quite early in the season, but this performance was just so good, so unique and masterfully done, that I simply have to write about it. Of course, the award he should be considered for is Best Leading Actor.
Lavant plays just under a dozen roles in the film, at the core of which is the enigmatic Monsieur Oscar, who is driven around and assumes different identities for various bizarre purposes. Other roles include a bizarre, leprechaun like monster, a man in a motion capture suit, and an assassin, among others.
The first thing one notices about the performance is the way he so easily changes his physicality to fit each of the roles, from his leprechaun monster, that brings to mind Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, to his motion capture suit, a performance centered around so many slow, meticulous movements, all of them executed exceptionally. Lavant could have no lines in the film and his performance would still be phenomenal in it, he is a chameleon, and adopts each of these roles without any difficulty.
Perhaps the best thing about this brilliant performance, even better than his myriad physical styles and the way he uses his voice in so many different ways for all of these people, is the way that all of the different roles each come back to the core of his character – Monseuir Oscar. Each time he resumes his life Oscar, he becomes more strained and on edge, as the line between the roles he takes on, and Oscar himself begin to blur. It is handled wonderfully by Lavant who changes Monsieur Oscar in nuanced and minor ways as the film goes on.
Yes, the film in itself is far outside of the Academy wheelhouse, it’s easily the strangest film of the last few years, probably the strangest since David Lynch’s Inland Empire in 2006. It would, however, be a crime for Lavant’s performance to go unrecognized, and while it may seem like shameless self promotion of myself, I implore everyone to try and share this piece, do one of your own if you’ve seen the film and agree with the calibre of his performance. It may not make much of an impact, but it’s a fantastic performance, easily the best I’ve seen so far this year, and word of it simply needs to get out there.