Sat 1 Jun 2013
‘Holy Motors’ is a very unusual film and I am not surprised that some people had a hard time coping with its structure and apparent lack of story. It is much closer in some moments with a piece of video art, or better said a collection of pieces of video art, some of them beautifully filmed and directed. It also borrows a lot from the films built out of short stories with some connecting feature between them, in this case it’s Paris (the landscape of the City of Lights is present in many scenes but plays a major role only in one) and of course, the principal actor, the wonderful Denis Lavant. What is striking and different however is the fact that the connecting story has a logic of itself and the actor who is present in all pieces gets slowly a life of himself which becomes as the movie advances the connecting and convincing story. And then we have the quality of the short stories, some constricted to a few minutes of dialogs, but which are so well written that we know at the end more about the characters than after other full movies.
Monsieur Oscar (Lavant) is some kind of an actor who is driven in a luxury limousine by a stylish driver (Edith Scob) and who descends in different points of the city not only disguised, but actually to live fragments of other peoples lives – a beggar, a killer, a tramp kidnapping a model during a photography session, a father taking his daughter home from her first teenage party, a stuntman for action games graphics, etc. The convention is built in a wonderful manner by director Leos Carax and has more than one layer – we have a cinema hall where semi-frozen audiences watch old silent movies, we have the actor disguising, putting on and taking off masks, and we have the limousine which seems to play the role of the preparing cabin for the actors in the endless performance of life. We shall learn towards the end of the film that the limousine is only one instances of the many limousines who carry the many actors who play these performances.
But are they really only actors? Each of the acts seem to leave a mark on Monsieur Oscar, he is not only tired by a long day at work and by a schedule which is kept rigorously like the schedule of a busy businessman, he does eventually get a human dimension of his own. This beautiful film does not provide all the answers, but asks many questions which continue to accompany the viewers after its final scene.