Expansive, breathtaking, and thrillingly unclassifiable, Holy Motors is writer-director Leos Carax’s first feature since Pola X (1999), and only his fifth in three decades. Both a lamentation for and celebration of cinema, the film opens with Carax himself, walking down a long corridor to a movie-theater balcony that overlooks a roomful of motionless, stony-silent spectators. After this dream-like prologue, we are introduced to the movie’s main character, Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant, Carax’s frequent collaborator), a professional chameleon who inhabits nearly 12 different personas over the course of a single day. Steered through the streets of Paris in a white-stretch limo, Oscar consults a thick dossier for the particulars of his next “appointment.” These scenarios require him to play, among others, a homeless old woman shaking a tin cup, a performer bending and contorting for a motion-capture sex scene, and a feral leprechaun. Oscar continually reinvents himself, exhausting work that he still pursues for “the beauty of the act,” as he explains to a mysterious executive who suddenly appears in the limo’s back seat. The “beauty” the shape-shifter refers to may be either moviemaking or movie-watching; both activities, like Oscar himself, are, as this extraordinary film reminds us, in a constant state of flux.

“Carax shows, in a conceit as antic as wondrous, as goofy as transcendent, what if, before they dozed off, those walls could talk… This comical animism—a twist on a classic children’s movie—offers a glimpse at an atheistic beyond, at the physical world’s metaphysical dimensions. These images and sounds that reveal the mind in matter and the soul in bodies suggest Carax’s ultimate definition of the cinema, and it’s one of the best and grandest that a movie has ever offered.”
Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Leos Carax

Leos Carax

M. Oscar: Denis Lavant
Celine: Edith Scob
Kay M: Eva Mendes
Eva Grace: Kylie Minogue

Youth Award, Leos Carax – Cannes Film Festival (2012); Best Foreign Language Film – Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (2012)

GENRE Drama, Fantasy
PRODUCTION France, Germany, 2012
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35, Blu-ray, DCP, HDCam

Swank Motion Pictures