Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
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  • Holy Motors is one of the best films I've seen in my life
  • So let me tell you why I like this movie so much
  • She can be sad, funny, intimidating and friendly at the same time
  • I think this philosophy has something to do with the nature of the acting profession, and the nature of our lives here on this earth - how it sometimes seems like we are all just actors in a gigantic studio, each of us playing a role until its end and then continues to a different role


by Roni GBZ

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    Holy Motors is one of the best films I’ve seen in my life. But be warned, you may not understand it, or even like it, at all. Holy Motors is almost not even a film in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it is a piece of extremely well made visual art which challenges our basic definitions of what “film” even means.

    The film is directed Leos Carax, a director already known for his unorthodox works. It stars Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue. It is mostly in French, except for a few parts, but you can very easily find English subtitles online.

  • Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
  • The film starts with this incredibly weird and a little creepy sequence of a man (played by Carax himself) discovering a secret door in his own bedroom. He opens the door with a finger that’s shaped like a key (yeah, just let go of your logic right there) and it leads him to a movie theater where an old black-and-white movie is being shown to bunch of frozen people, where a big dog and small child walk up and down the aisles, and seagulls can be heard in the background.

  • Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
  • This creepy imagery is soon stopped, and instead we meet Mr. Oscar. Mr. Oscar is something like an actor, only he plays characters in real life. It is not clear throughout the movie why he does this job or who benefits from it, so don’t expect any logic or explanation here either. It’s just his job - to move from place to place in his big limousine and be different people all the time. Once he is a beggar lady, then he is a motion actor simulating a sex scene with another actress, then he is a weird creature living in the sewers. The movie is made from those different sequences, from the different “roles” Mr. Oscar plays in real life. At the end there are even chimpanzees, in what I would probably describe as my biggest WTF moment in all my years of watching films.

  • Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
  • So let me tell you why I like this movie so much. The first reason is that this movie is one of the most original and unpredictable movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. For its entire 96 minutes, you will literally have no idea what’s going to happen next, and there is a crazy idea waiting for you in every corner. And yet, all those surprises and twists are so beautifully done by Carax, that you can see the justification for every single idea, no matter how weird.

  • Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
  • The cinematography is also a joy to watch. Many, many shots full of intricate details and a lot of attention to colors and texture. In much of the film, dialogue isn’t used at all, because just like in the old silent films of Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin, sometimes a good scene composition is all you really need to understand a good story.

  • Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
  • Denis Lavant, the lead, is credited with no less than 11 roles in the films credits! And rightly so. His role of an actor in real life offers him an unprecedented opportunity to switch roles completely inside the film without it appearing weird or over the top. He does this so fluently it hard to imagine it’s the same guy playing an angry father, a cripple about to die, a murderer, a beggar, a ghoul from the sewers, and so much more. Brilliant performance, and it is a big shame this actor doesn’t get more attention in more mainstream productions.

  • Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
  • Edith Scob plays Celine, Mr. Oscar driver in his limousine. The character she plays is even more mysterious than Mr. Oscar. Scob plays the role with a deep human complexity that can be seen even though she gets much less screen time than Lavant. She can be sad, funny, intimidating and friendly at the same time. Other actors listed in the credits, notably the two singers/actresses Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue, appear in smaller, supporting roles. Minogue plays a very sweet role and also gets to sing a musical number, whereas Mendes plays a part with no dialogue at all, but has very strong presence about her that makes the part impressive nonetheless.

  • Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
  • As far as storytelling go, it is almost impossible to connects what is actually 11 or 12 different stories in one big story arch. Yet, Carax somehow manages to do just that in his sometimes difficult to understand method. If you love logic in the films you watch, it’s going to be difficult for you to watch this film, as most of its big plot points are simply unexplainable. If you are one of those people who has to understand what’s going on, some bits of this film will be incredibly creepy.

  • Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
  • However, I also don’t want you to think the whole film is just some psychotic avant garde experiment. There are also many bits which are just pure fun to watch - for example this interlude smack down in the middle of the film, which just consists of people playing accordions in what appears to be a church for 3 minutes with no apparent reason. This whole interlude is done in one almost seamless one take. Let me assure you, the music will stay stuck in your head for weeks.

  • Holy Motors (2012 film - avant garde, drama film)
  • As a final note, after watching the film you’ll probably want to create your own theory about the philosophy behind it. I know I did. I think this philosophy has something to do with the nature of the acting profession, and the nature of our lives here on this earth - how it sometimes seems like we are all just actors in a gigantic studio, each of us playing a role until its end and then continues to a different role.

    In the movie, an unnamed guy who appears to be Mr. Oscar’s boss asks him “What makes you carry on, Oscar?” Mr. Oscar answers “The beauty of the act.” And this is by far the best answer I’ve heard for the eternal question about art in our life, and how we benefit from it.

    In conclusion, Holy Motors is a movie that will change your life, if you can watch it completely free of expectations and bias. It is a movie about art and love and creation. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s weird and incomprehensible at times, but it’s also very human and holds some clear truth about the nature of our lives.

    If you can keep an open mind for 96 minutes, do yourselves a favor and watch this movie.



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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in December, 2015. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 1118121652170931/k2311a1218/12.18.15
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