After hearing (reading) so many positive things about Holy Motors (“A must see!”) and how the lead actor, Denis Lavant, was not to be missed, I was incredibly eager to finally catch it.
The film, written and directed by Leos Carax and also starring Edith Scob, Kylie Minogue and Eva Mendes, has Lavant as the mysterious Monsieur Oscar, a man who casually moves from one life to the next. When I say life, he literally turns/transforms (via makeup he applies himself) into another human being; a father, beggar, assassin, evil leprechaun. He’s driven around in a white limo while he gets his job details (who he is to transform into next) from something called, “The Agency.”
As Oscar transforms, so does the film. For each character, the film becomes something different. Evil leprechaun? Monster movie. Assassin? Crime thriller. We also get a musical and a romantic drama.
What we don’t get is an actual story, we get a series of vignettes. The film, which would have better as a short, is 100-minutes too long and halfway through the film, you are wondering where is it taking you? It’s like some films I was forced to watch in my college film class. The professor thinks it’s brilliant but you just think it’s a colossal waste of time.
You never really find out any solid answers as to why Oscar is doing what he’s doing. Is this a film about religion? Purgatory? Who is Oscar supposed to represent? Is he even supposed to represent someone or something? Am I reading too much into this? I don’t know but if you find out, please tell me.
This is one of those you-take-with-you-what-you-bring-in types of movies which is fine if you enjoy that. I need a narrative. I need a character with an arc, moving from point A to Point B, C, D.
All of that being said, Lavant is absolutely wonderful as Monsieur Oscar. For every character he plays, he is absolutely a different person and you wouldn’t recognize him in the least if you hadn’t been watching him apply his makeup in the roving limo. He literally transforms himself every ten minutes and watching him on-screen is the one saving grace to Holy Motors.